Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhino Gives Birth at Indonesian Sanctuary

Some small hope for critically endangered Sumatran rhinos: For the first time in captivity in Indonesia, and only the fifth time worldwide, a Sumatran rhino has given birth, the International Rhino Foundation reports.

On Saturday at the 250 acre Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park, after a 16-month gestational period, a 60lb male calf was born to Ratu (video of her below), one of three females in the sanctuary. The baby has been named Andatu, a combination of his mother and father's names.

There are only 150-200 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild, and as such the birth is being hailed as historic. Sumatran rhinos used to live a wide swath of land from modern day northeastern India and Bangladesh, through Burma, Thailand and Malaysia and throughout much of Sumatra and Borneo. Currently however they are restricted to tiny pockets of land in Malaysia, Sumatra and the far northeast of Borneo.

As for the importance of captive breeding of Sumatran rhinos in preventing them from going extinct (which, perhaps it need not be said, is because of human influence), Mongabay sums it up:

"There are too few [Sumatran rhinos] left to survive without bold human intervention," Dr. John Payne of Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) told mongabay.com this year. "The days of leaving Sumatran rhinos in natural habitats and guarding them, hoping that they will not be poached and will breed, are passed. Very few of the remaining rhinos are likely to be fertile. Some of the fertile ones will have no access to a rhino of the opposite sex, because there are almost no rhinos left. Even if these rhinos are not poached, I would guess that maybe 90 percent of the survivors will not breed."

Tags: Animals | Endangered Species