Critically endangered Sumatran rhino born on Indonesian island

28 November 2023, 08:04

APTOPIX Indonesia Rhino
APTOPIX Indonesia Rhino. Picture: PA

The animals are threatened by destruction of tropical forest habitat and poachers who kill the animals for their horns.

A critically endangered Sumatran rhino has been born on Indonesia’s western island of Sumatra, the second born in the country this year and a welcome addition to a species that numbers fewer than 50 animals.

A female named Delilah gave birth to a 25kg male calf at a sanctuary for Sumatran rhinos in Way Kambas National Park in Lampung province, at the southern tip of Sumatra island.

The calf was fathered by a male named Harapan, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2006. He was the last Sumatran rhino in the world to be repatriated to Indonesia, meaning that the entire population of Sumatran rhinos is now in Indonesia.

Indonesia Rhino
A female Sumatran rhino named Delilah is seen after giving birth to a calf (Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry via AP)

Most of the remaining rhinos live on Sumatra, several in captivity. They are threatened by destruction of tropical forest habitat and poachers who kill the animals for their horns, which are prized for making ornaments and for use in traditional medicine in China and other parts of Asia.

“This birth is also the birth of the second Sumatran rhino in 2023. It emphasises the government commitment of the Indonesian Government on the rhino conservation efforts in Indonesia, especially the Sumatran rhino,” Indonesian environment and forestry minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a written statement.

She added that, from the semi-natural breeding efforts, there have been five live births of Sumatran rhinos at the Way Kambas sanctuary.

A conservation guard found Delilah with the newborn male calf next to her on Saturday morning, 10 days earlier than the estimated date of delivery.

Delilah and her baby are in good condition as the calf is now able to stand upright and walk. Not long after he was discovered, he was able to breastfeed in a standing position, said a statement from Indonesia’ Environment and Forestry Ministry.

The Sumatran rhino is legally protected in Indonesia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species describes the Sumatran rhinos as critically endangered, as the population is declining and only about 30 mature animals remain.

Indonesia Rhino
Vet Zulfi Arsan tends to the newly born Sumatran rhino calf (Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry via AP)

The yet-to-be-named calf is the first successful delivery for Delilah.

The seven-year-old female was born in an Indonesian sanctuary in 2016.

She was the second calf born to her mother, Ratu, who also gave birth to a male named Andatu in 2012, the first rhino birth in captivity in Indonesia in 124 years. The father, Andalas, was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001.

In September, Ratu, a 23-year-old female rhino, gave birth to a female rhino at the sanctuary in Lampung. Sumatran rhinos typically have a life expectancy of 35 to 40 years, according to the WWF conservation group.

By Press Association

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