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Hope for the Future: Rare Photo of Pregnant Sumatran Rhino

Images of the near-extinct Sumatran rhino were recently captured by WWF-Malaysia and the Sabah Wildlife Department’s camera traps. Experts believe that this rhino is pregnant, giving hope for the species and adding urgency to the enforcement of anti-poaching laws in the region’s forest and wildlife reserves.

The Sumatran rhino – once widespread on Borneo – is now confirmed to exist only in the northeast state of Sabah (Malaysia) and is possibly extinct from its former habitat in the state of Sarawak (Malaysia) and Kalimantan (Indonesia). Currently, Borneo’s Sumatran rhino population is estimated to be less than 30 animals. Click for a map of the region

Saving the rhino…..

WWF-Malaysia is working closely with Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department Sabah Foundation and the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), with the support from the Royal Malaysian Police, to ensure the safety and survival of this species. This coordinated enforcement has already yielded results, as WWF and partners have identified two rhino calves in the region. 

Data gathered from continued rhino monitoring and surveying show numerous threats. The home range of the rhinos is affected by oil palm expansion near the coastline. The conversion of natural forests into palm oil and other mono crops further fragment rhino populations, reducing its chances of survival. WWF-Malaysia is engaging land developers and forest managers to restore wildlife corridors and address illegal encroachment to protect Sabah’s rhinos. The Sabah Wildlife Department is also working closely with WWF-Malaysia and the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) to finalize a Rhino Action Plan. The plan will focus on habitat protection and enforcement as well as a breeding program for isolated rhinos.

WWF’s work with Malaysia’s Sumatran rhinos is part of our larger effort to protect the Heart of Borneo – a pristine area of equatorial rain forests larger than Kansas. The Heart of Borneo (HoB) Initiative is an international effort built around trans-boundary cooperation to enable collaborative and lasting conservation and sustainable development.  The Initiative intends to find a well balanced mix of ecological and economical land use and management strategies to ensure that long term sustainability of the HoB is secure. Commitments of the three HoB governments (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia) to pursue this objective are enshrined in the Heart of Borneo Declaration, the tri-national Heart of Borneo Strategic Plan of Action, and each country’s Project Implementation Framework and/or Strategic Plan of Action.

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