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Sumatran Rhinoceros

East Asia

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Dicerorhinus sumatrensis

Endangered

Major threats to the survival of the Sumatran Rhinoceros include:

  • Habitat loss for agricultural lands and human settlements
  • Forest conversion to rice and coffee production by illegal settlers
  • Poaching for its horns used as a status symbol and for traditional medicine
  • Inbreeding which increases the risk of diseases and shorter lifespan

The Sumatran Rhinoceros or the Asian Two-Horned Rhinoceros used to roam freely across Southeast Asian countries. This leaf-eating herbivore is the smallest of all five extant rhino species and lives mainly in the tropical highlands and lowlands of Sumatra.

With fewer than 80 mature individuals as of 2019, it is now considered as the most endangered rhinoceros species in the world.

Since 2015, they have been declared in Malaysia as extinct in the wild. Only one female is left in the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary after the 2017 euthanization of the male Puntung (due to cancer) and the 2019 death of the male Tam (due to old age).

As more forests are converted into residential areas, agricultural lands, and for other human purposes, it limits the natural territories where these folivore animals can congregate without danger. And when they feed on regenerating plants in logged areas, they become more accessible to poachers too.

Its already small population also increases inbreeding incidents which leads to declining health and shorter life expectancy.