The last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia has died. The female named Iman died a natural death in Borneo, said the WWF environmental foundation. Thus the species was extinct in Malaysia. Currently, according to WWF estimates, there are not even more than 80 animals distributed in nine isolated populations in Indonesia.
The habitat of the animals dwindled immensely, because the forest was cleared for palm oil plantations, paper production and mining in the past decades. In addition, many animals were victims of poachers. Pulverized horn is considered a medicine in many Asian countries. The World Conservation Union IUCN lists the Sumatran rhinoceros as threatened with extinction.
"The closest relatives of the Sumatran rhinoceros were the glacial woolly rhinos, the clock is ticking for the smallest rhinoceros in the world, and without human help, the death of the species will be inevitable in a few years," said Dr , Arnulf Köhncke, the head of species protection at WWF Germany.
The WWF environmental foundation is now building on the Sumatra rhino alliance, in which it works with, among others, the Indonesian government and the IUCN. Among other things, new breeding stations are to be set up in Indonesia. The aim is to detect as many as possible, isolated and reproducible animals and to relocate them to these conservation centers.
"The reproduction of rhinos is complicated, their reproductive rate is very low and many of the surviving animals are likely to be infertile due to their long-term isolation," explains WWF head of Species Protection Arnulf Köhncke. Therefore breeding programs are necessary. Later, healthy stocks should be released into the wild.
As the only rhinoceros species, the animal has a more or less dense hair. Originally it was spread from Assam in Northeast India over Indochina to the Malay Peninsula and the Great Sunda Islands. Only in May, the last male Sumatran rhinoceros of Malaysia, an approximately 35-year-old animal named Tam, had died.