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SOS Rhino : In the News : Investment in rhino research pays off: SOS Rhino chief

Investment in rhino research pays off: SOS Rhino chief


8 September 2006

SOS Rhino President, Dr Nan Schaffer, said the video footage of the wild Sumatran Rhino means there is hope of returns for the organisations that initially made an investment in the species.

The Sabah Wildlife Department, she said, has made a significant investment in this animal since the 1980s by building facilities to study them.

"They were the first in nurturing and the first in developing breeding techniques that ultimately resulted in the production of the first calf born in captivity in 100 years," she said.

However, it will take another substantial long-term investment to continue to sustain and promote the initial investment.

According to her, the animal is so special and so unique that it took millions of ringgit and years to understand it.

But the huge investment poured into research and development, she said, has succeeded in meeting its objectives.

Dr Schaffer said the commitment to ensure the long-term investment continues to be sustained is not only borne by the Government but also by the public, business and education sectors.

"It is a commitment by everyone not to let a world heritage species become extinct in our lifetime (even though) it will take funds, materials and determination," she said.

She said it is a viable struggle even for the burgeoning tourist industry. Nevertheless, she said it is a risk they have to take if tourism is added into the picture.

"But we have the awareness programme through the community outreach programme including the Rhino Patrol Unit," she said. Also, the SOS Rhino actively promotes awareness via the media, seminars and expeditions.

Deputy Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Laurentius Ambu, however, stressed that there is no direct tourism-related programme to see the rhinoceros in the wild.

He said they are normally found in the lowland dipterocarp forests and are the ultimate icons of the large mammals found in Sabah.

Meanwhile, he said a survey on the Sumatran rhinoceros at Tabin Wildlife Reserve is scheduled to commence in November, this year.

The survey to be chaired by the department will include organisations such as SOS Rhino, World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and Sabah Parks.

The main objective is to obtain an update on the population status of the species in Tabin, the results of which would be used to establish a management protocol for the species in Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

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