New Straits Times Press (Malaysia)
January 12, 2000
Johor Baru - The Johor Wildlife and National Parks Department plans
to trap a Sumatran rhinoceros seen wandering in the Sedili forest,
near Kota Tinggi, recently.
Bernama reported the department's acting director Shahruddin Othman
as saying that they were in the process of identifying the location
where the rhino was sighted by villagers before laying the trap.
"At present, wet weather conditions are posing a problem in
our efforts to locate the animal," he said. The Sumatran rhino
is facing extinction due to poaching.
Shahruddin said the rhino would be held in captivity to facilitate
research under a United Nations development and training programme.
The study would also determine the rhino population in the Endau-Rompin
forest near Mersing, Johor, he said. "We think there are still
three of four such rhinos in the Endau-Rompin forest," he added.
He said in 1994, the department captured a baby rhino in Sungai
Ara, Kota Tinggi, and it was now held in captivity in Sungai Dusun,
Selangor. In Kuala Lumpur, head of the Sungai Dusun Sumatran Rhino
Conservation Centre, Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, said a rhino had
also been sighted "one or two years ago in the same area".
Zainal said there were less than 55 Sumatran rhinos in the peninsula
based on a census in November last year. "There are an estimated
60 rhinos in Sabah," he told the New Straits Times.
The rhino population in the wild is between 250 and 300 worldwide,
with most of the endangered species found in Indonesia and Malaysia.
A few had been sighted in Vietnam and Thailand. There are 17 rhinos
in captivity, eight of which are in the SRCC. Three are in the department's
rhino sanctuaries in Sepilok and Tabim in Sabah, three in the Cincinnati
Zoo and three in the Waykampas Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Indonesia.
He said all rhino sanctuaries were having difficulty in their breeding
programme as much remained unknown about the rhino's mating habits.
GRAPHIC: Picture - Almost extinct ... File picture of a Sumatran
rhino at the Sungai Dusun breeding centre.