The rhino is believed to be one of a population of as few as 13 whose existence was confirmed during a field survey last year in the interior forests of Sabah, Malaysia, an area known as the "Heart of Borneo." A handful of rhinos are thought to survive in addition to the 13, scattered across Sabah but isolated from each other.
"This is an encouraging sign for the future of rhinoceros conservation work in Sabah," said Mahedi Andau, Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department. "While the total number of Borneo rhinos remaining is uncertain, we do know there are very, very few. To capture a photo of one just a few months after placing camera traps in the area is extraordinary."
The rhinos in Sabah spend their lives in dense jungle where they are rarely seen, which accounts for the lack of any previous photographs of them in the wild.
Conservationists hope that the population of at least 13 found last year is viable and will be able to reproduce if protected from poaching. A full-time rhino monitoring team, funded by Honda Malaysia was established at the end of 2005 in Sabah to monitor the rhinos and their habitat, and keep poachers away. The team set up the camera traps in February. Camera traps are remotely activated by infrared triggers when animals walk by.
"These are very shy animals that are almost never seen alive in the wild," said Matthew Lewis, Program Officer for WWF's Species Conservation Program. "The photos we get from the camera traps will eventually give us a better idea of the population structure by allowing us to identify individual rhinos: males, females and hopefully calves."
The rhinos found on Borneo are regarded as a subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros, which means they have different physical characteristics to rhinos found in Sumatra (Indonesia) and Peninsular Malaysia. The Sumatran rhinoceros is one of the world's most critically endangered species, with small numbers found only in Sumatra (Indonesia), Sabah (on the northern end of Borneo) and Peninsular Malaysia. On Borneo, there have been no confirmed reports of the species apart from those in Sabah for almost 20 years, leading experts to fear that rhinos may now be extinct on the rest of the island.
The main threats to the last rhinos in Sabah are poaching – its horn and virtually all of its body parts are valuable on the black market – and loss of its forested habitat due to conversion of the land to other uses. WWF is working with the Sabah Foundation and the Sabah Wildlife Department to establish a "Rhinoceros and Orang-utan Research Program Center" in the Heart of Borneo forest area to bolster the rhino monitoring and research work in that area. Supporters of WWF-Malaysia's rhino conservation work include Honda Malaysia and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sabah and the forests of the "Heart of Borneo" still hold huge tracts of continuous natural forests, which are some of the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth, with high numbers of unique animal and plant species. It is one of only two places in the world –Indonesia's Sumatra island is the other – where orang-utans, elephants and rhinos still co-exist and where forests are currently large enough to maintain viable populations.
Sarah Janicke | EurekAlert!
Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung
Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences