By : Jaswinder Kaur
WILDLIFE experts in Sabah were caught off guard on Aug 5 when a Sumatran rhinoceros ventured out of its forest habitat and made its way into an oil palm estate.
Sabah Wildlife Department veterinarians and rangers, with field officers from SOS Rhino Borneo and WWF-Malaysia in tow, rushed to the estate to see an adult male in his prime roaming one corner of the plantation. It seemed like an answer to their prayers.
The animal's sudden appearance comes at a time when conservationists are pooling resources to start a captive breeding programme to boost Sabah's dwindling rhino population, estimated at 30 in number.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu said the state Rhino Task Force, which was set up after the Fourth Sumatran Rhino Conservation Workshop a year ago, was the government's way of showing its commitment to saving the species.