Rhinos are having something of a moment, from ambitious plans to rewild them across Africa, to cutting-edge technology bringing back ancient species DNA. Rhino calves are also popping up in the UK, and now the Sumatran rhinos are joining in with the birth of a new calf.
At the Sumatran Rhino Reserve, Way Kambas National Park (SRS TNWK) in Indonesia the new calf was born to experienced mother Ratu on September 30. Ratu, who is a 23-year-old female Sumatran rhino, has previously had two other calves, in 2012 and in 2016.
“This news is certainly happy news, not only for the Indonesian people but also the world. I give my highest appreciation to the parties involved in the birth of this Sumatran rhino. Hopefully, we can continue to receive happy news from the births of Sumatran rhinos and other protected animals in the future," said Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Minister of Environment and Forestry, in a press release.
This birth of the female calf marks the fourth successful birth at SRS TNWK and increases the number of rhinos living at the reserve to nine.
"The main goal is to produce Sumatran rhino calves to maintain the survival of the Sumatran rhino species which is now threatened with extinction. In the future, Sumatran rhino calves resulting from the breeding program at SRS TNWK can be released back into their natural habitat," said Director General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation (KSDAE) KLHK, Satyawan Pudyatmoko.
Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered and now only live in scattered small populations in forests across the Indonesian islands, where previously their range extended into Southern China, Thailand, and Cambodia. According to the IUCN Red List there are only around 30 mature individuals left in the wild, with the wild population having declined by 80 percent in the last 30 years. Across Sumatra the main threats are the problems associated with having a small population, human disturbance, and poaching.
“This little rhino will be an incredible ambassador for the Government of Indonesia’s successful conservation breeding program, and essential for the future of this species. This birth is welcome news for us all!” said the International Rhino Foundation’s (IRF) executive director Nina Fascione, who was in Indonesia to celebrate the birth.