August 21, 2012
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Efforts to save the Sumatran rhino in Borneo have sped up ever since the capture of Puntung last Christmas. A female rhino, who lost one foot to a snare, Puntung represents the first viable mate for Tam, a male rhino who has been kept in a large rainforest enclosure since his rescue in an oil plantation in 2008. Now a new video hopes to garner some publicity for the new couple, who may represent the best chance for the continued survival of Sumatran rhinos on Borneo.
Less than 200 Sumatran rhinos are believed to exist in the wild in total. Found in Sumatra, Borneo, and possibly peninsular Malaysia, the species is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. While poaching and vast deforestation have pushed these species to the brink, the gravest threat may now be that many of the rhinos are stuck in fragmented forests and rarely, if ever, meet to breed. Given this, conservationists have turned to the strategy of bringing individual rhinos together in large enclosures in order to allow some free movement in their rainforests, while enabling vets and scientists to aid breeding as needed. The strategy has begun to pay off in Sumatra where earlier in the year the first baby rhino was born in Way Kambas Sanctuary.
The new video was produced by Sime Darby, one of the largest palm oil producers in the world, which has contributed funds to the conservation program to breed the rhinos, via its independently managed Sime Darby Foundation.