A critically-endangered wild Borneo Sumatran rhino was captured in order to be paired with a male in captivity. There are only about 40 remaining on Borneo, so it is fervently hoped that the new rhino pair will reproduce successfully. The male that was already in captivity is named Tam was found in 2008 in Malaysia on an oil palm plantation. He was injured at the time, most likely from an illegal trap set for wild animals. In the wild, these rhinos are quite elusive, so poachers set traps for them to fall in.
Getting the new rhino couple to mate will be no easy task. The Borneo Rhino Alliance says it has been four years since the birth of a wild Sumatran rhino. In September 2001 a Sumatran rhino calf was born in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. It had been over 100 years since one had been born this way. Two other calves were also birthed there after 2001, but this zoo is the only one to be successful in Sumatran rhino captive breeding.
If you have been following rhino news, you know the last Javan rhino in Vietnam was confirmed dead this year. It had been shot by a poacher. With such a small population the Sumatran rhinos are also in danger of being driven into extinction.
Demand for rhino horn used in the superstitious traditional chinese medicine has created a very high price for it, though it has been proven to be made mainly of keratin – the same material in human fingernails and toenails – and has zero medical benefits. Habitat destruction, and little legal protection also are contributing to the decline of Sumatran rhinos. Reportedly the penalty for killing one is just a year in jail, and a $33 dollar fine.
Image Credit: Borneo Rhino Alliance