Do Not Rely On Hope Only To Save Endangered Species – Rhino Alliance

Puntung und Tam © Borneo Rhino Alliance / WWF
Puntung and Tam in playful mood at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary. Photo credit © Borneo Rhino Alliance / WWF

LETTER: The possible discovery of a rhino footprint in forest in Sabah was announced at a seminar on Danum Valley on 6 December 2016.

Given the nature of the evidence provided and all the collective field work by various agencies up to the present, it is highly unlikely that there are wild rhinos surviving anywhere in Sabah.

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Prevention of the extinction of this ancient genus, distinct from the African and Indian species, has long gone beyond retaining a few individuals in the wild.

Rescue from the brink will not entail protecting a few stragglers in the wild because for the past few decades there have been too few individuals in any one area to form a viable breeding population.

Success can come only through implementation of a single program that allows every remaining Sumatran rhino, whether in Malaysia or Indonesia, to contribute its genes to producing babies.

Iman is the last wild Sumatran Rhino to be found in Sabah. She was captured in Danum Valley and safely transferred to the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in March 2014, and so far has supplied 10 eggs towards the first experimental attempts at in-vitro fertilisation in efforts to save her species. – Photo credit Borneo Rhino Alliance
Iman is the last wild Sumatran Rhino found in Sabah. She was captured in Danum Valley and transferred to the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in March 2014, and so far has supplied 10 eggs towards the first experimental attempts at in-vitro fertilisation in efforts to save her species. – Photo credit Borneo Rhino Alliance

Even though about a quarter of all remaining Sumatran rhinos have significant reproductive pathologies, rapidly advancing reproductive and cellular technologies can be tapped to boost the rate at which embryos are made.

This is the line that Borneo Rhino Alliance is taking, a policy supported by Government of Sabah and Malaysia.

  • John Payne aka Datuk Dr Junaidy Payne is Executive Director of Borneo Rhino Alliance of BORA.