Camera Traps Capture Elusive Sumatran Rhino


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The World Wildlife Fund announced earlier today that an elusive Sumatran rhinoceros has been caught on camera in the jungles of East Kalimantan, a province of Indonesia. The Borneo subspecies was thought to be extinct in the area, and the WWF-Indonesia states, “the team is delighted to have secured the first known visual evidence of the Sumatran rhino in Kalimantan."

Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered, with only six populations existing in the wild - four in Sumatra, one in Borneo, and one in the Malay Peninsula. They're difficult to count, because they're a solitary species and are scattered across a wide range, but their numbers are estimated to be less than 275. The decline of the Sumatran rhinoceros is due primarily to poaching for their horns, which go for up to $30,000 a kilo on the black market. The horns are greatly valued in Chinese traditional medicine.

Wildlife conservation teams first found rhino-esque footprints while trekking through the jungle to survey orangutan populations in East Kalimantan. This prompted WWF-Indonesia officials to install sixteen camera traps in the West Kutai district. After three months, the officials got their first footage of a two-horned rhino. The animal can be seen wallowing in the mud in the video above.

At the Asian Rhino Range States Ministerial Meeting on Wednesday, in Bandar Lampung, Sumatra, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said, “this physical evidence is very important, as it forms the basis to develop and implement more comprehensive conservation efforts for the Indonesian rhinoceros. This finding represents the hard work of many parties, and will hopefully contribute to achieving Indonesia’s target of 3 percent annual rhino population growth."

WWF-Indonesia conservation director Nazir Foead added, “WWF calls on all parties, in Indonesia and around the world, to immediately join the efforts to conserve the Indonesian rhinoceros.".

Image via Wikimedia Commons.