‘Luckiest people’: Encountering a newborn Sumatran rhino in the wild

JAKARTA — In 2018, five Indonesian forest rangers had an experience that would make them the envy of conservationists everywhere: they met a newborn Sumatran rhino in the wild. “They were on a regular patrol, and then they heard a piercing voice,” Rudi Putra, a biologist and chairman of the Leuser Conservation Forum (FKL) Board of Trustees, told Mongabay over the phone recently. “They didn’t immediately recognize whose voice it was until they saw the calf.” The Leuser Ecosystem in the northern part of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island is one of the last refuges of the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). The species’ global population is fewer than 80 individuals. Apart from perhaps as many as a dozen in Indonesian Borneo, all live on Sumatra. They all survive in small and isolated populations, with some considered to be doomed as they are not viable enough to survive in the long term. Gunung Leuser National Park is part of the Leuser Ecosystem, in Aceh province in northern Sumatra. Rainforest in the Leuser Ecosystem. Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. The rhino population in Leuser is split up across four habitats. The area is touted by experts as the most promising site for wild Sumatran rhinos as it holds one of the largest numbers of the species. But of the four populations, Rudi said, only one has recorded natural births every year. “In about a year, there’s two or three new calves in that place,” he said. The five rangers saw one that…This article was originally published on Mongabay
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