Malaysian wildlife authorities said Monday (Dec. 26, 2011) the capture of a young female Borneo Sumatran rhino had given them a last chance to save the highly endangered species from extinction. The female rhino, aged between 10 and 12 years old, was caught on December 18 and is being kept in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah on the Malaysian area of Borneo island where it is hoped it will breed with a lone captive male.
The female rhino, which has been named Puntung, was caught in a joint operation by the Borneo Rhino Alliance and the Sabah Wildlife Department. “This is now the very last chance to save this species, one of the most ancient forms of mammal,” Laurentius Ambu, director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, said in a statement. Puntung had been specifically targeted since early 2010 as the mate for a 20-year-old, lone male rhino named Tam, who was rescued from an oil palm plantation in August 2008.
Previous attempts in the 1980s and 1990s to breed Borneo Sumatran rhinos failed… The breeding programme is important because it is estimated only between 30 and 50 of the Borneo sub-species of the Sumatran rhinos are known to remain in the wild in Borneo — a vast island shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Only 150 to 300 Sumatran rhinos are known to exist in the wild, making it one of the world’s most endangered species, with only small groups left on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, the north of Borneo and peninsular Malaysia.
Capture of rare Sumatran rhino gives hope for species, Agence France Presse, Dec. 26, 2011