Tam may be one of the most eligible bachelors on the planet right now, but still his friends are having a hard time finding him a date. He's just one of an estimated 10 to 30 Borneo rhinos left in the wild and it may be up to him to keep his species from extinction--but only if a fertile female can be found. So far, efforts to track down that lucky lady have failed, though conservationists have their eye on one gal in particular. With estimates giving the rare rhinos a mere ten years before extinction, the race to find Tam a mate is as urgent as ever.It's a Race Against Time For Tam and His Species
While some feel that trying to save the Borneo rhino from extinction is a lost cause, others see it as a race against time. With so few animals left in the wild, fewer than 40 individuals spread throughout the jungles of Borneo, a special breeding program is thought to be the only way to preserve the species. Then in steps Tam, an aging male. He was discovered in 2008 wandering through a palm oil plantation, suffering an injury inflicted by a poacher's trap. Nursed back to health and under constant protection, Tam has spent the last two years awaiting a fertile female to mate with--but he's nearing an age where he won't be able to reproduce.
Tam has been in a forest paddock since August 2008, was shown to have viable sperm in November 2009, and may die of old age without reproducing if he is not found a mate soon.
Although there are some people who feel otherwise, the fact is that the Bornean rhino is almost certain to drift to extinction without active human intervention to boost birth rate of the species. There are hardly any breeding female rhinos left in the wild. It is my belief that, even with constant protection, if rhinos are just left in the wild, the numbers and distribution of breeding individuals, along with the likelihood of inbreeding, may mean that the species will disappear.
A Lonely Female Has Been Spotted
According to the AP, hopes of finding Tam a mate were renewed recently when a surveillance camera spotted a female in a remote region of Borneo. Experts believe that she is alone, without a male counterpart with which to reproduce--perhaps an ideal partner for Tam. So, researchers have begun efforts to catch her and unite the pair in hopes they'll hit it off.
Failing that, the fate of the species remains precarious. Earlier this year, images of another rhino were recorded, a female thought to be pregnant. Aside from her offspring, there's no evidence yet that any future generation of Borneo rhinos will ensure the survival of the species.
An Uphill Battle for Survival as Threats Mount
Sadly, the extremely rare rhinos continue to face threats from all side on their island home. The last 50 years has seen their numbers dwindle by as much as 95 percent as their habitat has been transformed into plantations and poachers persist in targeting them for their parts.
Borneo rhinos, of course, aren't the only species under grave threat of extinction due to human activities, though their story is made particularly poignant by the efforts of conservationists to preserve them. It's a compelling tale of a rhino looking for romance, with the fate of a species hanging in the balance. We can only hope they find each other in time.