KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wildlife researchers are hopeful that three Sumatran rhinoceros now in captivity at a reserve will help save the species from extinction.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said they were examining the latest captive, a female Sumatran rhino recently translocated to the reserve to join two other creatures from the critically endangered species.
The female rhino was air-lifted by a helicopter to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve on Friday, about 10 days after its capture at the Danum Valley conservation area.
Researchers have named the female rhino Iman after the small river at the Danum Valley.
“Once Iman is settled into Tabin, we will review all potential options on how she can best contribute to her species,” Dr Ambu said.
“We hope that this success will act as a boost to international collaboration on the Sumatran rhino, and through the NGO Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora), try to engage with our counterparts in Indonesia.”
He said the capture of Iman and two others – a male named Tam and a female named Puntung – was necessary.
“The Sumatran rhino is on the verge of extinction in Sabah. Bringing them into captive conditions allows us to maximise the chance that each rhino can help save the species,” Laurentius said, adding that the department had been working on this matter with Bora, WWF Malaysia and Yayasan Sabah.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the state Cabinet had decided a year ago to bring all remaining Sumatran rhinos into a managed, fenced-in facility.
“Our hope is to breed them with the neccessary local and global expertise,” he said.
“We also hope that with the continued support and expertise on rhino reproductive biology from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife based in Berlin, Germany, we will have baby rhinos soon,” Masidi added.
In this regard, he said while the Sabah cabinet had agreed to loan Tam to the Cincinatti Zoo for breeding as part of international collaboration, that move may not be necessary if Iman was proven to be fertile.
“The state Cabinet approval to send Tam to the United States was conditional upon our failure to catch a fertile young female rhino at Danum within a reasonable time to mate with Tam,” he added.
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