According to a new study published in the International Journal of Conservatism, the Sumatran rhino is now officially considered to be extinct in the Malaysian wild.
A Sumatran rhino has not been spotted in Malaysia since 2007, and the last two female rhinos in the Malaysian Borneo were captured and placed into breeding facilities in 2011 and 2014.
Researchers presently estimate that there are fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild, which are distributed among three populations on the Indonesia island of Sumatra.
How Do We Save The Species?
Researchers suggest that safe regions be implemented where the rhinos can breed (also called ‘intensive management zones’) and place isolated rhinos into these areas so that they can reproduce safely.
The Asian Government may have approved of these zones in 2013, but little action has presently been taken to establish them. Such highlights the importance of activism, as until people begin speaking out and urge the government to take action, little progress will continue to be made.
In regards to preserving the species, other scientists suggest establishing Rhino Protection units – teams of people, usually including armed park rangers, responsible for monitoring the animals, looking for signs of rhinos, and scouting for and arresting poachers – at rhino breeding sites. It is on the agenda to improve the rhino breeding programs by adding assisted reproductive technologies, such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.
Said Rasmus Havmøller, lead author of the study and graduate student at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the Natural History Museum of Denmark:
“We’ve reached a point of no return. [Sumatran rhino] densities are so low. What we need to do is go out, find out where the rhinos are, firstly, bring them together, secondly, … and then ensure their protection within these areas.”
As LiveScience reports, the rhino’s major decline is due to both poaching and logging. Numbers of the Sumatran rhino began to decline rapidly in the 1980’s, and now so few rhinos live in the wild, males and females rarely meet in their native habitats.
At present, the greatest barrier to preserving the Sumatran Rhino is political will. Managing the remaining Sumatran rhinos as a meta-population would require countries to establish policies for rhino capture and transport among management zones and across international borders. Funding is another limitation, the researchers said.