Monday, July 22

Sabah NGO ready to help Indonesia in saving Sumatran rhinos

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Multi-national team working to harvest eggs from a Sumatran rhino in Malaysia, with a view to producing embryos in vitro.

Multi-national team working to harvest eggs from a Sumatran rhino in Malaysia, with a view to producing embryos in vitro.

The potential fate of wild Sumatran rhinos - a foot damaged or even removed by a snare trap. Malaysia's Puntung was lucky because she was damaged as a baby and survives to this day under the care of Borneo Rhino Alliance.

The potential fate of wild Sumatran rhinos – a foot damaged or even removed by a snare trap. Malaysia’s Puntung was lucky because she was damaged as a baby and survives to this day under the care of Borneo Rhino Alliance.

KOTA KINABALU: A non-governmental organization in Borneo that has been rescuing critically endangered Sumatran rhinos since 2008 under a program to prevent the species’ extinction, is ready to play a new role with Indonesia.

Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) dedicated to preventing the extinction of the Sumatran rhino, is greatly saddened to learn of the death of Najaq, the first rhino captured in Kalimantan, in recent times.

“Najaq was captured less than 700 kilometers south of the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Sabah, so she might even be distantly related to our rhinos,” said Dr John Payne, Executive Director of BORA, the organization entrusted with the care of the last three Malaysian Sumatran rhinos in Sabah.

“We recall the cordial visit of representatives of the government of Indonesia and WWF-Indonesia in early 2015 to observe our captive rhinos. We would value collaboration with Indonesia through the mutual exchange of information and expertise.

“If Indonesia should so desire, we can bring to the Sabah government the idea of sharing Sabah’s remaining rhinos, or their gametes, in support of Indonesia’s efforts to save this ancient species,” he said.

BORA chairman Dr Abdul Hamid Ahmad applauded the Indonesian government’s decision to rescue the remaining rhinos in Kalimantan.

“Our veterinarian, together with the Sabah Wildlife Department, has used a similar capture and translocation protocol to rescue the last two wild rhinos from remote hill forests in Sabah. The capture of isolated Sumatran rhinos is indeed inherently risky, but leaving isolated animals in a place where they cannot find a mate and breed has far greater risks for a critically endangered species with a global population of less than 100. Protection and habitat restoration are no longer sufficient to ensure the Sumatran rhino’s survival.

“Although Najaq’s death is tragic, we stand with and encourage Indonesia to continue its rescue efforts.”

“In addition to Indonesia’s ongoing strategy to find and rescue isolated Sumatran rhinos, reproductive specialists and veterinarians from Bogor Agricultural University in Indonesia and those in Malaysia, who together represent Southeast Asia’s leading Sumatran rhino experts, are already working together with experts from Germany, the United States, Italy and other nations.

Their goal is to develop advanced reproductive techniques, including in vitro fertilization, in order to give every remaining Sumatran rhino the chance to contribute to the survival of its species. This approach will also help to sustain genetic diversity, a factor critical for the long-term survival of the species,” said Dr Abdul Hamid.