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SOS Rhino : In the News : Current Rhino News : Rhino Subspecies is found only in Sabah

Rhino Subspecies is found only in Sabah


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", he said.



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