New conservation effort to focus on captive rhino breeding

KUALA LUMPUR, 14 Aug 2019: 

According to Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora) and SOS Rhino, the single main reason that captive breeding of Sumatran rhinos has not been successful so far is due to the fact that capture efforts have for the past 40 years avoided capture of fertile rhinos and instead targeted the isolated and mainly infertile ones.

“It would be nice to imagine that this ancient species can be saved from extinction by protecting the last survivors in the wild and through natural breeding. The reality is that this is no longer going to happen,” said Bora executive director Dr John Payne in a statement today.

“It is absolutely necessary to fast track assisted reproductive technology to ensure that every last Sumatran rhino counts and can contribute its genome to the survival of the species.”

Touching on the collaboration between Malaysia and Indonesia on the conservation of the Sumatran rhinoceros – which is set to go forward as early as next month – he said: “I am delighted that all the concerned institutions now subscribe to this view and will move forward together. Better late than never.”

Sumatran rhinos will only survive with a concerted effort to secure the last fertile rhinos from their unviable situations, he explained.
However, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is also vital so that the infertile and sub fertile ones can contribute their genomes to the species survival.

“While governments do their part to enable the collaboration to move forward, the effort to save our Sumatran rhino from disappearing from Planet Earth calls for international support,” said Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew.

“I call on WWF-Malaysia to reach out to the global community to partner with us in reversing the complete loss of rhinos.”

WWF-Malaysia conservation director Dr Henry Chan said: “WWF-Malaysia applauds the Sabah state government’s strong commitment to rhino conservation. Its visit to Indonesia has helped to expedite the process of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to reverse the complete extinction of our Sumatran rhinoceros.

“The organisation fully supports the MoU as it would pave the way for a better bilateral collaboration that would in turn gain stronger support from the international community for a One Borneo Programme.”