The Discovery Of A Sumatran Rhino In Borneo Marks A Huge Conservation Win

If you’ve never heard of the Sumatran rhino, there’s a reason why. The species is critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which maintains that only around 100 individuals remain on our planet. This is of course, not good news for an animal that has existed for 20 million years, and is believed to have once ranged from the Himalayan foothills in Bhutan, through southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sumatra, Borneo and the Malay Peninsula.

But conservation isn’t all about doom and gloom — it’s about taking the wins where we can get them while fighting for the future of this planet’s biodiversity — and this week we’re celebrating a major win for the Hairy rhinoceros. For the first time in 40 years, a Sumatran rhino has been encountered by conservationists in Indonesian Borneo. Before 2013, scientists believed the species to be regionally extinct. With camera trap photos and footprints providing evidence to the contrary, efforts were doubled to seek and protect the rare rhino; three years later, those efforts are proving worthwhile. The female rhino, who is believed to be around 4 to 5 years old, was safely captured and transported by WWF-Indonesia to a protected forest about 100 miles away from the site of her discovery. In her new home, it is hoped that she will remain safe from poachers while she matures and a breeding population is established.

Said Dr. Efransjah, CEO of WWF-Indonesia,

This is an exciting discovery and a major conservation success. We now have proof that a species once thought extinct in Kalimantan still roams the forests, and we will now strengthen our efforts to protect this extraordinary species. This is a race against time for rhino conservation. Providing a safe home is the only hope for the survival of the Sumatran rhino for many generations to come. WWF will work continuously with the Sumatran rhino conservation team for the protection of the Sumatran rhino population in Kalimantan.

Poaching, habitat fragmentation, and habitat loss continue to threaten this special species; in the last 20 years, their numbers have been halved. But clearly, we shouldn’t count them out yet. In fact, it’s time we all take action. While conservation of endangered rhinos may often feel like an uphill battle, it’s not one which anyone has to — or should — wage alone.

How can you help? Check out these sites, and join in the fight for the future of the Sumatran Rhino:

International Rhino Foundation

End Extinction

Racing Extinction