The Sumatran rhino is the smallest living rhinoceros species weighing just 1,300-1,700 pounds. It has fringed ears, reddish-brown skin variably covered with long hair, and wrinkles around its eyes. It is probably the most endangered of the rhinoceros species and is the last surviving species in the same group as the extinct Woolly Rhinoceros. Numbers have declined over 50% due to poaching and habitat loss over the last 15 years. Fewer than 300 Sumatran Rhino survive in very small and highly fragmented populations in Southeast Asia with Indonesia and Malaysia being the only significant range states.
Sabah is the last preserve of the Borneo Sumatran Rhino, a subspecies of the Sumatran Rhino. WWF officials said that surveys in 1992 and 1995 in Sabah had found fewer than 13 rhinos, scattered over a vast area. While some of the Sumatran rhinos are kept in zoos, they are difficult to breed in captivity. The 2000 birth of a healthy calf to a rhino called Emi at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio was the first successful captive delivery in 112 years.
The Sumatran rhino are solitary animals that only come together to breed, but a 2005 survey results seem to indicate that the 13 rhinos are in an area in Sabah that’s untouched by poaching which means the rhinos have a reasonable chance to meet each other and breed. There is also evidence that there are young animals in the group so it would appear that breeding have already taken place. This has sparked hopes that the population of Borneo Sumatran Rhino can again flourish, at least in Sabah.