A rare Sumatran rhino was born at an Indonesian sanctuary in a win for the extremely endangered species, environmental officials said.
The newborn Sumatran rhino’s mother, named Rosa, gave birth to the female calf in captivity at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary located in Way Kambas National Park in the Lampung Province on March 24, according to Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment.
A highly endangered species, the World Wildlife Fund says only about 80 Sumatran rhinos are left. Once found across Southeast Asia, today the remaining population exists in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo islands.
The rare birth has brought the total number of Sumatran rhinos in the sanctuary to eight and sparked hope for the species.
“The birth of the Sumatran rhino is good news amid the efforts of the Indonesian government and partners to increase the Sumatran rhino population,” Wiratno, the director general of conservation at the environment ministry, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said in a statement.
Sumatran rhinos have long been in jeopardy due to poaching and habitat destruction.
Animal traders poach their horns for commercial and medical purposes, often for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Human encroachment on their habitat also contributed to their greatly reduced numbers.
Now the remaining animals live on small pockets of land, making it particularly difficult for them to reproduce in the wild.
The new Sumatran rhino at the sanctuary in Indonesia marks the first birth of the species at the facility in 10 years. It also comes after the mother rhino experienced eight miscarriages.
The environment ministry in Indonesia and the Kambas national park partnered in 1998 on a captive reproduction program for the nearly-extinct Sumatran rhinos.
Wiratno believes that the park is the only viable place where the natural breeding of Sumatran rhinos could take place “with the support of technology and collaboration of expertise both from within and outside the country.”
The Javan rhino is another subspecies in Indonesia facing extinction. The birth of five Javan calves in Ujung Kulon National Park last year raised hopes that conservation efforts are succeeding.
“Rosa’s pregnancy represents new hope for this Critically Endangered species,” said Nina Fascione, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation.