JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar announced the birth of a critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros on Saturday.
In a Facebook post, the country’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry said this is the fourth calf of the species born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Way Kambas National Park, Lampung province.
It comes slightly over a year after the birth of another female calf in March 2022.
Saturday’s birth takes the population at the sanctuary to nine, a boost for the species – the smallest and hairiest of living rhinos – that numbers fewer than 80 in the world, based on a 2019 assessment of threatened species.
Ms Siti Nurbaya said: “This news must be happy news, not only for the people of Indonesia but also the world. I give my highest appreciation to all parties involved in the birth of this Sumatran rhino.
“Hopefully, we can continue to get good news from the births of Sumatran rhinos and other protected animals in the future.”
On Saturday, the female rhino calf was born at 1.44pm local time to its mother Ratu and father Andalas.
This marks the third successful birth for the pair, aged 23 and 22, which produced Andatu in 2012 and Delilah in 2016.
The healthy female calf, which has not been named, is being cared for by its mother, which is also doing well after delivery, according to the International Rhino Foundation.
The sanctuary is managed by the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia (Yabi), which had veterinarians and animal care staff who oversaw the birth process as well as the post-natal health of the mother and calf.
The sanctuary was built in 1996 as a heavily protected semi-wild habitat where captive rhinos can reproduce naturally, with the ambition of eventually releasing them back into the wild.
Yabi executive director Jansen Manansang said on Saturday that the sanctuary is now harnessing assisted reproductive technology to optimise the breeding of the rhinos.
The IRF reported that its executive director Nina Fascione was in Indonesia to witness and celebrate the momentous birth.
She said: “There are so many uncertainties about the status of wild Sumatran rhinos, but with this birth and the overall success of the SRS breeding programme, there is clearly still hope for this species.”
The species that was once found in the dense forests of South-east Asia, including the foothills of Bhutan and southern China, has declined over the years due to habitat loss, fragmentation and poaching.
The mammal, which can grow up to 1.5m-tall and weighs between 500kg and 960kg, is known to communicate through a variety of means ranging from whistling to dung heaps.
The herbivore, expected to go extinct soon, is the only Asian rhino with two horns.
It is more closely related to the extinct woolly rhinos than any of the other rhino species alive, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Today, remaining rhinos of its kind roam the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. - The Straits Times/ANN