By Rhishja Cota-Larson
International support for the Sumatran rhino crisis has received a much-needed boost from Sabah: The State Wildlife Department has been given the official nod to “exhaust all options available” in order to increase the dwindling population of this critically endangered species.
One of the options is to capture a female Sumatran rhino, in hopes that she will breed with Tam, the resident male at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary inside Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Another is to provide some of Tam’s sperm to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia and/or the Cincinnati Zoo. The possibility of loaning Tam to the Cincinnati Zoo to pair with Suci is also being considered.
At Tuesday’s press conference, State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun emphasized the need for international cooperation.
“If we don’t want export, we don’t want to loan, we just leave in hope some miracles will happen whether they can multiply, of course the risk is that rhinos in Sabah may go extinct altogether even in our lifetime.”
A female Sumatran rhino has been identified via camera traps in Danum Valley and plans are currently underway to bring her to Tam. It was hoped that a female rhino captured in December 2011, Puntung, would successfully breed with Tam, but unfortunately, cysts in her reproductive system may be preventing a pregnancy. Masidi told the Borneo Post that Tam and the new female will have nearly a year to produce “results”, and then the other options will be explored. More....