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Sumatran Rhino

Posted by on Nov 13th, 2007
Filed Under: Wildlife Conservation

Sumatran Rhino ConservationThe 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.

Sumatran Rhino

Sumatran Rhino Photo from MSN Alain Compost / WWF-Canon

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.

On April 24, 2007 it was announced that in the jungles of Malaysian Borneo cameras had captured night time footage of a Sumatran rhino eating, peering through jungle foliage, and sniffing the film equipment. The rhino in the two-minute footage is a rare Bornean subspecies of which only 25 to 50 are believed to be left on the island scientists estimate, mostly found in the dense interior jungles of Sabah, a state located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. Although found in a commercial forest where logging is commonplace the video will be used to convince local governments to turn the area into a rhino conservation zone. This is the first-ever footage that shows the elusive Borneo rhino’s natural behavior in the wild.

Malaysia Wildlife Conservation 2007
Malaysia Wildlife Conservation
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