Groundbreaking Effort Launched to Save Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhinos

With fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, the future isn’t looking good for this critically endangered species. However, their advocates aren’t giving up hope just yet.

Sumatran rhinos are the smallest rhinos in the world, and they’re now also the most endangered. They now exist in small isolated populations on islands of Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo.

Over the past few decades poaching and habitat loss have caused their disappearance from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, and they were most recently declared extinct in Malaysia.

Now, however, conservationists believe that isolation is now the biggest threat to their survival. Without the ability to find each other and mate, their future is looking grim. It’s especially problematic for this species because if females go too long without breeding, they become infertile.

Just in time for World Rhino Day, five major conservation organizations including the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission, Global Wildlife Conservation, International Rhino Foundation, National Geographic Society and World Wildlife Fund have partnered up to help support the Indonesian government’s national Sumatran rhino conservation breeding program, which is now otherwise known as the Sumatran Rhino Rescue project.

“Rescuing the Sumatran rhino from extinction is an extremely high priority for the government of Indonesia,” said Wiratno, Director General of Nature Conservation and Ecosystems, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Government of Indonesia. “Working with species conservation experts, and with local authorities and communities to support the campaign and raise awareness, we have prepared an Emergency Action Plan for the rhino that calls for the establishment of a national conservation breeding program. The Sumatran Rhino Rescue project will be of critical importance in this effort and we welcome the support of this coalition of organizations from around the world.”

The coalition’s goal is to find them, especially individuals who aren’t likely to find others of their kind on their own, and relocate them to facilities where they can breed. Now, intervening on such a scale is being seen as their best possible chance for survival.

“This is our last opportunity to raise the profile of this lesser-known species of rhino and preserve over 20 million years of evolutionary history,” said Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist at the National Geographic Society. “Now is the time to take action together.”

The coalition hopes to build two new sanctuaries for them, one in Indonesian Borneo, and another in Sumatra. As of now, there’s only one, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, which was built by the International Rhino Foundation in Way Kambas National Park.

There, they hope to build on what’s been learned by past failures and successes when it comes to captive breeding of Sumatran rhinos, and hopefully more births will soon come.

“This enormous challenge cannot be successfully tackled by a single organization on its own. At the IUCN Species Survival Commission we are proud to convene this strong and uncommon alliance, and are confident that we’ll see the Sumatran rhino thrive once more,” said Jon Paul Rodríguez, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

Photo credit: International Rhino Foundation/Sumatran Rhino Rescue

80 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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HEIKKI R
HEIKKI R6 months ago

thank you

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Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Really awesome Thank you for cring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Interesting article Thank you for cring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Wonderful news Thank you for cring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Hope this is successful Thank you for cring and sharing

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Lindi S
Lindi Smith6 months ago

They need really tight security if they are going to house these animals in the same places they are exploited. Move them to mid-western Canada to a nice massive ranch with [again] security and they might have half a chance. The destruction of other living beings by humans has gotten totally out of control.

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