Efforts might now be doubled to save the species, as the Sumatran rhino is closer to the brink of extinction, with officially none existent in the wilds of Malaysia. The last specimen found within the forests of the Asian country has now perished, and no others have been found across them since 2007.
Only two more females have been caught and brought into sanctuaries for breeding, one in 2011 and the other in 2014. Malaysia has been officially declared as the home of only three Sumatran rhinoceros, otherwise known as hairy rhinoceros, held within a facility in Sabah.
Only a presumed 100 remain in the wilds of Indonesia, which could probably now be considered the only place in the world where the animal might still be found, in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Once spanning across Southern Asia, the species are diminishing in numbers and facing extinction if preventive measures won’t be taken.
According to the study’s lead author, PhD student Rasmus Gren Havmøller at the University of Copenhagen, the entire population of Sumatran rhinos need to be viewed as a “metapopulation”, meaning that they should all be considered to be part in a single program across all nations.
A similar method has been successfully used through the “Project Tiger” by the prime minister of India in order to save a species of tigers. Co-author of the study, Christy Williams, hopes that their paper will inspire similar actions from the Indonesian government and pull back Dicerorhinus sumatrensis from the edge of extinction.
There was a reported attempt between two governments in 2009, which tried to bring the species from Borneo and Sumatra together for breeding purposes, but in spite all efforts, the project nonetheless failed to get past initial stages. It underlines the need for all the population of rhinos to come together in one place if their survival is to be expected, including those in captivity.
There are a number of nine Sumatran rhinos in protected in facilities, zoos and sanctuaries. One is held within the Cincinnati Zoo in the United States, the tree aforementioned in Sabah, Malaysia, and five others in Indonesia’s Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. In hopes for the species survival though, the last remaining specimen in the U.S. will soon depart for Indonesia.
The remaining hairy rhinos within the wilds are the fifty residing in the Bukit Baristan Selatan National Park, up to thirty five in Way Kambas National Park, and a couple of others more in Gunung Leuser National Park.
The odds are long, but the hopes are up that these species of rhinoceros can be saved by proper communication and coordination among Southeast Asian nations, that have the means and the possibility of aiding in their survival.
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