Birth of rare Sumatran rhino offers “ray of hope” for species

An incredibly rare — and incredibly cute — Sumatran rhino has been born at a sanctuary in Indonesia offering good news for a species that’s on the brink of extinction.

The female calf was born March 24 at Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park to mother, Rosa, after eight unsuccessful pregnancies.

The female calf was born March 24, Photo: Indonesia Ministry of Forestry and Environment

Save the Rhino International called the birth — only the sixth in captivity — “a ray of hope for the species’ future”

“There are fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos left, all living in a handful of small, isolated populations on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo,” the UK-based charity group said in a statement.

Mother and baby are now bonding, but because of Rosa’s complex medical history, they are under the constant care and watch of veterinarians.

 “We’ve been holding our breath since finding out Rosa was pregnant,” Cathy Dean, CEO of Save the Rhino International, said in a statement. “Rhino pregnancies aren’t easy, so it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate this birth and know that there’s one more Sumatran rhino in the world.”

“However, the fact that we are so excited about the birth of one rhino highlights that these wonderful animals still teeter on the edge of extinction. But today’s news brings us hope for their future,” she added.

The baby rhino is warming hearts around the world. Photo: Indonesia Ministry of Forestry and Environment

The Indonesian government, conservationists and non-governmental organizations have been working to protect the species. That includes a breeding program.

“The birth of the Sumatran rhino is good news amid the efforts of the Indonesian government and partners to increase the Sumatran rhino population,” Wiratno, Indonesia’s director general of nature conservation and ecosystems with the ministry of environment and forestry said in a statement.

Mother and baby are bonding well. Photo: Indonesia Ministry of Forestry and Environment

Rosa was brought to the Sanctuary in 2004 after getting too close and comfortable around people, which put her at risk. And the calf’s father, Andatu, was born at the sanctuary in 2012, becoming the first of his species to be born in captivity in Indonesia.

Their calf is also the first third-generation captive-born Sumatran rhino — and the second-generation captive-born in Indonesia — the first-ever recorded for this species.

“Generally, Sumatran rhinos are shy and secretive, avoiding humans and their settlements at all costs, preferring to live in thick, isolated forests and moving mostly by night,” Save the Rhino explained. “Rosa, however, somehow became used to being around humans and became extremely comfortable living and feeding nearby. Unfortunately, this unique behaviour put her in danger.” Photo: Indonesia Ministry of Forestry and Environment.

The sanctuary is closed to visitors to allow the new family to bond.

“With the birth of Rosa’s calf at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, we hope to continue to receive happy news from the births of other Sumatran rhinos in the future,” Wiratno added.

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