Currently, there are only about 80 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild. That population, however, has just gotten a little bit larger thanks to the birth of a Sumatran rhino calf at a sanctuary in Indonesia.
Once roaming large areas in Southeast Asia, there are only around 80 of these creatures left in the wild, all of which live in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo islands. Conservationists have welcomed the good news about the rare birth, which raised the number of Sumatran rhinos in the sanctuary to eight.
“The birth of the Sumatran rhino is good news amid the efforts of the Indonesian government and partners to increase the Sumatran rhino population,” said Wiratno, the director-general of conservation at the environment ministry.
The species’ vulnerable existential condition is the result of relentless poaching and habitat destruction. Human encroachment over the last decades has also led to habitat destruction, further shrinking their numbers.
The Sumatran rhino’s wild population is small and scattered across several habitats, making breeding difficult. Since the population is so fragmented, the animals cannot support a big enough birth rate that exceeds the natural death rate. As a result, captive breeding is likely to be the species’ only hope of avoiding extinction.
The Sumatran rhino calf at the sanctuary represents the first birth of the species at the facility in 10 years. The captive breeding program is the result of a 1998 partnership between Indonesia’s environment ministry and the Kambas national park.
According to Wiratno, “with the support of technology and collaboration of expertise both from within and outside the country,” the park can help the endangered rhino population bounce back from the brink of extinction.