Endangered Sumatran elephant born in Indonesia, second in weeks

This handout picture taken and released by the Environment and Forestry Ministry on Nov 28, 2023, shows a female Sumatran elephant calf standing between her mother's legs at Way Kambas National Park. - AFP

JAKARTA: A critically endangered Sumatran elephant was born in Indonesia on Tuesday (Nov 28), officials said, the second rare birth in weeks that has given renewed hope to conservation efforts.

Sumatran elephants are on the brink of extinction with only about 2,400-2,800 left in the world, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Weighing about 78 kilogrammes, the calf was born at Way Kambas National Park in southern Sumatra, the Environment and Forestry Ministry said. It was born at an elephant centre inside the national park at around 10am, the ministry said in a statement. The gender was not given.

The health of the calf and its mother was being monitored by park staff.

A male elephant was born at the same national park this month, to a different mother and in good health, the second such birth this year.

The elephant population is threatened by rampant poaching for their tusks, which are prized in the illegal wildlife trade. The archipelago nation faces an ongoing battle against wildlife crime and several elephant poisoning cases have been reported in recent years.

Deforestation has reduced the critically endangered elephants' natural habitat and brought them into increasing conflict with humans.

On Saturday, a critically endangered Sumatran rhino was born at the same national park. Less than 80 are estimated to be left in the world.

A female rhino named Delilah gave birth to a yet-to-be-named male calf weighing 25 kg at Way Kambas, fathered by a rhino called Harapan (Hope).

A conservation guard found Delilah lying next to her newborn calf on Saturday, the ministry statement said. It was the fifth calf born under a semi-wild breeding programme at the park, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a statement.

The new addition to the Sumatran rhino herd at the national park, which numbers 10, comes after another baby Sumatran rhino was born there in September. Successful rhino births are rare.

A male rhino named Andatu, born in 2012 at Way Kambas, was the first Sumatran rhino birthed in an Indonesian sanctuary in more than 120 years. IUCN classifies the Sumatran rhino, the smallest of all rhino species, as critically endangered. Multiple threats have brought them to the brink of extinction, including poaching and climate change.

Rhino horn is often illegally traded for traditional Chinese medicine. Indonesia is also racing to save another critically endangered species, the Javan rhino, with fewer than 80 alive today.

"Good news comes to us one after another," Siti said in the statement.

"This good news should encourage us Indonesians to continue the conservation efforts of protected species in the country." - Agencies

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