April 21, 2010

Photo Shows Rare, Possibly Pregnant Borneo Rhino

A World Wildlife Fund (WWF) camera trap has reportedly caught a picture of a rare Borneo rhino, according to an April 21 article by the AFP news agency.

The report notes that the rhino is believed to be a pregnant female under 20 years of age.

"The size (of the rhino) is quite extraordinary," WWF official Raymond Alfred told the Associated Press (AP) on Wednesday, adding that the organization believes the female is with child because of "on the shape and the size of the body and stomach."

If it is indeed pregnant, the calf could provide new hope for the nearly extinct species. According to the AFP, there are only 30 rhinos remaining on Borneo Island, and researchers can only keep tabs on the population by using the camera traps.

"There are so few Sumatran rhinos left in the world that each calf represents a lifeline for the species," Dr. Terri Roth, a conservationist and rhino expert, told the press agency. The Borneo rhinos are a distinct sub-species of the Sumatran rhinos.

Laurentius Ambu, the wildlife director for Malaysia's Sabah state, also noted that two other rhino caves had been seen in the same area where the photograph of the female subject was taken.

He called for increased government enforcement of anti-poaching laws, telling AFP, "habitat protection and enforcement have been recognized as the main strategies in ensuring the survival of the rhino population in forest reserves."

The Borneo rhino, also known as the Eastern Sumatran Rhinoceros, is one of three sub-species of the Sumatran Rhinoceros. According to the Borneo Rhino Alliance, they are the smallest of the Sumatran rhinos, are typically between 4 to 5 feet tall and 6 1/2 to 9 1/2 feet long, and weigh at least half a ton. In addition, Sumatran Rhinos have two horns, hair, and reddish-brown skin. These rhinos typically live between 25 and 35 years.


On the Net:

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - http://www.panda.org/

Borneo Rhino Alliance - http://www.borneorhinoalliance.org/