December 10, 2014

On The Very Edge Of Extinction

By Jaswinder Kler, Borneo Insider, August 21 2013

Masidi Manjun: “As I have said before, I want to do what is right, not what is popular. If we want to prevent that extinction, we have to do something very bold and drastic very quickly. Give me the best possible solution to this enigma”.

Datuk Masidi Majun explains to the Sabah media the Sumatran rhino situation in Sabah, 20 August 2013 rsz

Datuk Masidi Manjun speaks to the media about the status of the Sumatran rhino situation in Sabah

 

KOTA KINABALU: There has been much exposure this year in the media on Sabah’s rhinos. There are two main reasons for this.

 

Firstly, the Sumatran rhino is on the very edge of extinction. Once wide spread in the rainforests, swamps, and cloud forests in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China, it is believed that the species is now confined to two island populations in Sumatera and Borneo (in Sabah and Kalimantan only) .

Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit, a brainstorming meeting of 100 global experts and concerned citizens held in Singapore in April 2013, gave the previously obscure species a new global profile. Experts think there may be about 100 left in the wild, with most in Sumatra and fewer than ten in Malaysia, all in Sabah.

No one can be sure of its exact numbers without a massive survey effort, because these solitary, forest-dwelling rhinos are so few and scattered in remote sites. In any case, the rhino specialists in Malaysia say that there are not enough wild rhinos remaining in Malaysia to form a viable breeding population.

“The second main reason for the media attention” says Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, “one thing for sure is that if assertive action is not taken now, the species will definitely go extinct in Sabah in the next decade.

“If we want to prevent that extinction, we have to do something very bold and drastic very quickly. The big question is: What exactly needs to be done? I have directed The Sabah Wildlife Department and invited the Conservation NGOs in Sabah to get together and give me the best possible solution to this enigma.

DOING WHAT IS RIGHT MAY NOT BE POPULAR

“As I have said in many contexts before, I want to do what is right, not what is popular”

Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, Director of Sabah Wildlife Department said the department has consulted with a wide range of local and international expertise, including people managing wild and farmed African rhinos, zoo people, specialist vets, rhino ecologists, and people who have been involved in saving other critically endangered birds and mammals.

According to him, the only consensus is that we have to act quickly to boost Sumatran rhino births. “Although a few international people do not agree, governmental and non-governmental professionals in Sabah say that that there is now an urgent need to get as many rhinos into fenced, managed conditions as soon as possible,” he said adding the idea is that every rhino can be closely monitored and treated as necessary, to get them producing embryos.

In my opinion, the exact location where the rhinos are kept is not paramount concern for this programme,” he added.

“We can move them between facilities as long as the care is always world class and the intention is to breed rhinos. I do believe that at this case, Sabah can and should take a leadership role.”

But Dr Sen Nathan, SWD Assistant Director explained that the problem now with wild Sumatran rhinos lies in an obscure wildlife biology concept, called the Allee Effect”.

“Once numbers of a species go below a certain threshold level, breeding success falls below death rate, and the species is set on a steady trajectory to extinction, even in protected areas such as Tabin and Danum Valley,” said Dr Sen.

 

POACHING HASTENS BUT DOES NOT PREVENT EXTINCTION

“Poaching may hasten extinction, but preventing poaching will not prevent extinction. Factors involved include inability of fertile females and males to find each other, reproductive pathology induced by long periods with no breeding, and inbreeding because only siblings remain in one area.” Dr Sen believes that advanced and possibly as yet undiscovered reproductive technologies will be needed in order to maximize prospects for producing Sumatran rhino babies.

“There is imminent need to translocate the remaining wild Sumatran rhinos in Sabah to captivity as this is a key possibility to beat the looming threat of total extinction of the species,” said WWF-Malaysia Executive Director/CEO, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.

“We need to expedite this action as the rhinos are at the risk of being poached out or die naturally if left in the wild.”

Dino also added that WWF-Malaysia is working closely with its partners to conduct surveys in the Danum Valley to identify locations of the remaining rhinos, and patrolling the area to protect the rhinos until they are captured for translocation to the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary.

The Borneo Rhino Sanctuary programme was approved by government of Sabah in 2009, with the aim to prevent the rhinos’ extinction in Sabah. So far, only two rhinos are in the sanctuary facilities in Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

 

TAM, PUNTUNG, SUCI AND CINCINNATI

Tam is a fertile but aging male, while Puntung is a younger female, who probably cannot become pregnant by natural means because she has significant endometrial cyst growth in her reproductive organs. In March 2013, government gave approval to target capture of a wild female rhino in Danum Valley.

The long term aim is to re-establish a fully wild rhino population but the immediate task is to maximize the contribution of every single rhino towards the goal of producing more baby rhinos. In July 2013, several local NGOs and institutions agreed to support a way forward.

If Sabah cannot secure a new, fertile mate for Tam before July 2014, Tam will be loaned to Cincinnati Zoo as a mate for their sole female Sumatran rhino named Suci.

Why Cincinnati? Because this is the only zoo in the world which has successfully bred Sumatran rhinos, producing an infant in 2001 (a male named Andalas), 2004 (a female named Suci) and 2007 (another male named Harapan).

The parents of these three rhinos have died of age-related diseases. The first born male, Andalas, was returned to Indonesia in 2007 and he fathered a baby, born in 2012.

In desperation, Cincinnati Zoo has made it known that they will try to mate Suci with her younger brother Harapan as soon as he is sexually mature, but all observers say that this is a last resort, aimed at breeding Suci before endometriosis starts to set in.

 

GLOBALLY MANAGED BREEDING PROGRAMME

The NGOs and institutions that gave their blessing to the Cincinnati loan plan include Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT), Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), Danau Girang Field Centre, HUTAN, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) and Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah Branch).

Others include the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA), Royal Society Southeast Asian Rainforest Research (SEARPP) programme, Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA), Sabah Environmental Trust, Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA), The Sabah Society and WWF-Malaysia.

“There may be about a hundred Sumatran rhinos left in Sumatra, but when numbers get that low, in a nation with a large and growing human population, things don’t look good there either,” said Datuk Junaidi Payne, executive director of a Sabah-based NGO, Borneo Rhino Alliance.

“We have been in frequent contact with our Indonesian counterparts for several years, and the message that we get is that they are very hesitant to contemplate bringing in more wild rhinos into fenced, managed conditions, despite the enormous threats to the wild rhinos.

“Their reluctance is in part due to fear of public criticism,” he said. Junaidi believes that Sabah should collaborate with Indonesia and the best global specialists in sharing rhinos, or rhino ova and sperm, for a globally managed breeding programme”.

That way, he says, “We could together reverse the long term fatal trend that this species is now in, and start to get more births than deaths. Sabah has fewer rhinos and fewer options, but paradoxically there is now the need for Sabah to take a leadership role.”

 

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The Rhino Cup to raise funds for BORA

BORA rhino cup 1

The Rhino Cup, in partnership with Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora), aims to raise a minimum of RM100,000 towards the cost of building the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Danum Valley.

Aside from the Polo Tournament, the event will feature a bazaar and live music from Blastique, Victor Trixter and a-marQ during the day while Gregory Ramanado and Bazli will entertain the crowd at night.

It will be held from 3pm on Oct 20 at the Royal Selangor Polo Club.

The event is open to all with an admission fee of RM20. For details visit www.facebook.com/therhinocup.

 

BORA rhino cup 2  BORA rhino cup 3

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Charity polo tourney to save rhinos

by Kathleen A. Michael, The Star Online

The Star metd_dz_1210_p21a

Precious pair: Tabin Wildlife Reserve currently houses a fertile male rhinoceros, Tam, and a sub-fertile female rhinoceros, Puntung.

THE Sumatran rhinoceros once thrived throughout South-East Asia but the species is now confined to the islands of Borneo and Sumatera.

Today, they are considered the most critically endangered wildlife in the world. There are fewer than 10 Sumatran rhinos in Sabah and fewer than 100 in Sumatera, Indonesia.

Currently, Sabah has a fertile male named Tam and a sub-fertile female named Puntung at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary interim facilities in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. There is also another female rhino, Gelogob, who is too old to breed at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

The species has almost disappeared because there are only a small number of rhinos left in any one place, making breeding in the wild difficult.There are plans to confine the last remaining Sumatran rhinos for breeding within a natural forest. Last month, the construction of a breeding and holding facility commenced at Datum Valley, an area believed to hold the last remaining fertile Sumatran rhino in Malaysia.

A charity polo tournament is being organised to raise funds to support the construction. The Rhino Cup, in partnership with Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora), aims to raise a minimum of RM100,000 towards the cost of building the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Danum Valley.

“We aim to assist Bora in their efforts to breed rhinoceroses,” said Rhino Cup head organiser Adilla Jamaludin.

The event will also feature a bazaar and live music from Blastique, Victor Trixter and a-marQ during the day while Gregory Ramanado and Bazli will entertain the crowd at night.

It will be held from 3pm on Oct 20 at the Royal Selangor Polo Club.

The event is open to all with an admission fee of RM20. For details visit www.facebook.com/therhinocup.

 

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Joint Efforts to Breed Sumatran Rhinos in the Offing

JAKARTA, 11 December 2012. 

The aim to work together to save this rhino species which is nearing extinction was further cemented during a recent visit to the Way Kambas National Park Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Lampung Province, Sumatra in Indonesia.

Globally, there are only 11 live Sumatran rhinos in managed breeding facilities namely in Way Kambas, Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) in Sabah and Cincinnati Zoo in USA, while the numbers in the wild are believed to be dwindling in a continuing trend, with less than 150 rhinos currently in existence.

The Sumatran rhino is Malaysia’s most endangered wildlife species, and very small wild populations are believed to exist only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Tun Musa Hitam and Erwin Arifin, Bupati of Lampung Timur District, exchange gifts at Way Kambas National Park, 4 November 2012

Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), the philanthropic arm of the Sime Darby Group, has committed RM11.4 million over six years from 2009 towards efforts to breed the Sumatran rhinos at the BRS in Sabah.

Efforts to share and exchange technological, genetic and biological information and experience, and possibly even gametes (eggs and sperm), were among the discussion topics during the trip to SRS made by officials from the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and Yayasan Badak Indonesia (YABI).

The trip to the SRS by the officials was to see the new baby rhino, Andatu, born five months ago, and the first ever Sumatran rhino birth in captivity in Indonesia.

Led by YSD chairman Tun Musa Hitam, the delegation also made a courtesy call on Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan in Jakarta, the day after the trip to Lampung.

Tun Musa said the Minister agreed that both parties could and should work together to breed the rhinos in managed sanctuaries, in order to increase the depleting population.

“We want to ride on the success of our Indonesian counterparts to breed the rhinos as we are also trying hard to do the same. We can learn from their experiences and collaborate.

“We need to have the endorsement of both the Indonesian and Malaysian governments for the exchange of information, biological materials and expertise.

Andatu, born 23 June 2012 at Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way KambasNational Park, with his mother Ratu, who was captured from the wildnear Way Kambas in 2005. Andatu's father Andalas was born inCincinnati Zoo in 2001. This success story supports the notions thatthe Sumatran rhino might be saved from extinction only throughintensive care in fenced sanctuary conditions. And that collaborationbetween Indonesia and Malaysia with global zoos and researchinstitutions will be needed in order to provide enough gametes (eggsand sperm) and the best reproductive technology

Andatu, born 23 June 2012 at Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park, with his mother Ratu, who was captured from the wild near Way Kambas in 2005. Andatu’s father Andalas was born in Cincinnati Zoo in 2001. This success story supports the notions that the Sumatran rhino might be saved from extinction only through intensive care in fenced sanctuary conditions. And that collaboration between Indonesia and Malaysia with global zoos and research institutions will be needed in order to provide enough gametes (eggs and sperm) and the best reproductive technology.

“We should work on all areas of cooperation and consideration should also include exchange of rhinos,” he added. Andatu’s father, Andalas, was the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity after 112 years in 2001, in Cincinnati Zoo. He was paired with Ratu in 2009, at the Sumatran Rhinoceros Sanctuary within the Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia. Despite two consecutive miscarriages, Ratu delivered Andatu after a 16-month third and successful pregnancy.

Efforts are now underway at the BRS in Sabah for Puntung to conceive. She was airlifted from a solitary life on a hill range in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve on 25 December 2011, in a dramatic operation, as a mate for the male rhino Tam, who is also at the BRS facility. It is hoped that the duo would be able to produce an offspring to help save their species from impending extinction.

Puntung’s foot is believed to have been ripped off in a poacher’s snare trap when she was a small infant but, miraculously, the wound healed and she survived. However, she has problems with endometrial cysts in the lining of her womb, possibly as a result of long periods in the wild without reproductive activity. This problem is being addressed with the help of rhino reproductive experts from the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.

The BRS programme, initiated by the Sabah government in 2009, aims to prevent the extinction of the Sumatran rhino, the only wild species of rhino in Malaysia.

A Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit themed “Last chance to act!” will be held in Singapore in April 2013 to bring together existing local experts and concerned people and others who have been involved with similarly endangered species in other parts of the world over the past few decades.

Among the success stories of bringing back other species “on the edge” of extinction include the Californian condor, black footed ferret, crested Ibis, red wolf, Indian rhino and white rhino, all of which nearly went extinct but are now increasing in numbers.

The Summit is also a global effort to save the rhinos from suffering the same fate as the now extinct Yangtze river dolphin (2007), the Javan rhino in Vietnam (2010), and the northern white rhino (extinct in the wild by 2008, but with a small number in captivity).

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Critically endangered Sumatran rhinos to receive artificial insemination

By Sujadi Siswo, Channelnewsasia

JAKARTA, 11 December 2012: There is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel for the conservation of the almost extinct Sumatran rhinos. In collaboration with non-governmental organisations, enhanced cooperation and joint efforts are being considered by relevant authorities in Malaysia and Indonesia to increase the remaining tiny rhino populations in both nations.

The aim to work together to save this rhino species which is nearing extinction was further cemented during a recent visit to the Way Kambas National Park Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Lampung Province, Sumatra in Indonesia.

Globally, there are only 11 live Sumatran rhinos in managed breeding facilities namely in Way Kambas, Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) in Sabah and Cincinnati Zoo in USA, while the numbers in the wild are believed to be dwindling in a continuing trend, with less than 150 rhinos currently in existence.

The Sumatran rhino is Malaysia’s most endangered wildlife species, and very small wild populations are believed to exist only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), the philanthropic arm of the Sime Darby Group, has committed RM11.4 million over six years from 2009 towards efforts to breed the Sumatran rhinos at the BRS in Sabah.

Efforts to share and exchange technological, genetic and biological information and experience, and possibly even gametes (eggs and sperm), were among the discussion topics during the trip to SRS made by officials from the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and Yayasan Badak Indonesia (YABI).

The trip to the SRS by the officials was to see the new baby rhino, Andatu, born five months ago, and the first ever Sumatran rhino birth in captivity in Indonesia.

Led by YSD chairman Tun Musa Hitam, the delegation also made a courtesy call on Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan in Jakarta, the day after the trip to Lampung.

Tun Musa said the Minister agreed that both parties could and should work together to breed the rhinos in managed sanctuaries, in order to increase the depleting population.

Manggala Wanabakti, Jakarta. (left to right) Drs. Widodo Ramono, executive director, Indonesian Rhino Foundation; H. Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Forestry Indonesia; Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman, Sime Darby Foundation; Hjh. Yatela Zainal Abidin, chief executive officer, Sime Darby Foundation; Mohd. Ghozali Yahya, Minamas Plantation.

 

“We want to ride on the success of our Indonesian counterparts to breed the rhinos as we are also trying hard to do the same. We can learn from their experiences and collaborate.

“We need to have the endorsement of both the Indonesian and Malaysian governments for the exchange of information, biological materials and expertise.

“We should work on all areas of cooperation and consideration should also include exchange of rhinos,” he added. Andatu’s father, Andalas, was the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity after 112 years in 2001, in Cincinnati Zoo. He was paired with Ratu in 2009, at the Sumatran Rhinoceros Sanctuary within the Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia. Despite two consecutive miscarriages, Ratu delivered Andatu after a 16-month third and successful pregnancy.

Efforts are now underway at the BRS in Sabah for Puntung to conceive. She was airlifted from a solitary life on a hill range in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve on 25 December 2011, in a dramatic operation, as a mate for the male rhino Tam, who is also at the BRS facility. It is hoped that the duo would be able to produce an offspring to help save their species from impending extinction.

BORA puntung thumbnailPuntung’s foot is believed to have been ripped off in a poacher’s snare trap when she was a small infant but, miraculously, the wound healed and she survived. However, she has problems with endometrial cysts in the lining of her womb, possibly as a result of long periods in the wild without reproductive activity. This problem is being addressed with the help of rhino reproductive experts from the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.

The BRS programme, initiated by the Sabah government in 2009, aims to prevent the extinction of the Sumatran rhino, the only wild species of rhino in Malaysia.

A Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit themed “Last chance to act!” will be held in Singapore in April 2013 to bring together existing local experts and concerned people and others who have been involved with similarly endangered species in other parts of the world over the past few decades.

Among the success stories of bringing back other species “on the edge” of extinction include the Californian condor, black footed ferret, crested Ibis, red wolf, Indian rhino and white rhino, all of which nearly went extinct but are now increasing in numbers.

The Summit is also a global effort to save the rhinos from suffering the same fate as the now extinct Yangtze river dolphin (2007), the Javan rhino in Vietnam (2010), and the northern white rhino (extinct in the wild by 2008, but with a small number in captivity).

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Hope for a rhino family – The Star

Animal care: Veterinarians Dr Hildebrand, Dr Robert Hermes and Borneo Rhinoceros Alliance’s Dr Zainal Abdul Hamid (standing) doing an ultrasound on Puntung.

By Ruben Sario

KOTA KINABALU: A team of veterinarians is treating a female rhino in the east coast Lahad Datu district in the hope that the animal will eventually be able to breed.

Puntung, the sole fertile female Sumatran rhino at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, had been examined and treated in the past several months to improve her chances of conceiving.

Borneo Rhinoceros Alliance (Bora) executive director Dr Junaidi Payne said the examination was carried out by specialist veterinarians from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin, led by Dr Thomas Hildebrand.

The veterinarian team was roped in after an ultrasound examination on Feb 24 showed that Puntung was suffering from endometrial cyst growth, a painful condition that could hinder the sperm from reaching the ova as well as prevent the implantation of embryos on the uterine wall.

Dr Payne said BRS officials were now deciding whether to let Puntung breed naturally or opt for artificial insemination.

Sabah Wildlife Department rangers had airlifed Puntung from a solitary life on a hill range at Tabin two years ago to be a mate for the male rhino, Ketam, at the sanctuary.

Wildlife conservationists were hoping that both animals would eventually be able to produce an offspring to help save the highly endangered species, of which only an estimated 200 were left in the wild in Sabah and Sumatra.

The Sabah government had initiated the BRS in 2009 to stave off the extinction of the Sumatran rhinos here with Yayasan Sime Darby, contributing RM5mil to the cause over the past three years.

The foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Sime Darby Group, had also committed another RM6.4mil for the development and operation of the BRS programme over the next three years.

Meanwhile, Bora chairman Dr Abdul Hamid Ahmad said the priority in the husbandry of captive wildlife was the animal’s health, including reducing all forms of biological and mental stress.

“There is no point in maintaining a breeding programme if animals die through poor hygiene and if their reproductive potential is depressed through stress,” he said.

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Precious rhino may need extra help to mate – Daily Express

 


 

Daily Express, 15 Jan 2012

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Confidence soars over capture of ‘star’ female rhino – Daily Express

 

 

 

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Plans drawn to save rhinos from extinction – Borneo Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Borneo Post. January 15 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rhino breeding facility urgently needed – Borneo Post

 

Borneo Post, Jan 15 2012

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