By Chris Maskilone
July 4, 2002
KOTA KINABALU: Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni, a subspecies
of the Sumatran rhino can only found in Borneo.
This docile animal has no enemy except man.
SOS Rhino Borneo Programme Director Dir. Edwin Bosi said although
there has been reports of the Sumatran rhino's aggressive behaviour,
this perisodactile or odd-toed animal keeps a distance of at least
5 km from human activities.
"In contrast, they are persecuted for their horns, body parts
and stomach content," he said at the Second Sumatran Rhino
Conservation Seminar at Shagri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort here recently.
According to Dr. Edwin, there are five species of rhinoceroses
in the world - the black and white rhinos in Africa, Indian rhinos
in India and Nepal, Javan in Indonesia and Sumatran rhinos in Peninsular
Malaysia and Borneo.
The other subspecies of the Sumatran rhino - the Dicerorhinus sumatrensis
sumatrensis --- lives in Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia.
"There are probably less than 30 Dicerorhinus sumatrensis
harrissoni left on Borneo, reported only in Sabah in three separate
rainforest habitats located in the east coast, and have been listed
as critically endangered", he said.
Of the rhinoceroses, the Sumatran rhinos of Borneo are the smallest,
standing about 120 to 135 cm at the shoulder and wighing not more
than 700 kg.
Describing them as very vocal, Dr. Edwin said the animal with two
keratinous horns, hairy ears, neck and shoulder is easily tamed
and become manageable in captivity. This animal, living in solitary
when as an adult, makes the lowland tropical rainforest, especially
along riverine areas, as their home which ranges from 15 to more
than 30 sq km.
Their life revolves around mud volcano and spring water for their
mineral intake. Presence of the animal could be detected through
strains of hair left after spending their time in mud wallow, apart
from fresh hoof prints, fresh dungs and oxidized urine on leaf blades
in their habitat.
As the subspecies is only found in Sabah, he said it placed us
in a very delicate situation and therefore it is our responsibility
that it would not go extinct. "This is a key species given
full protection under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997
and it is one species that our tourism industry cannot live without",