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Milton, O., 1962. Rubber, tin - and rhinos. Animal Kingdom 65 (2): 56-59, figs. 1-4

Location: Asia - South East Asia - Indonesia - Sumatra
Subject: Distribution - Records
Species: Sumatran Rhino

Original text on this topic:
In 1953 the Drainage and Irrigation Department (D.I.D) of Selangor State commenced work on the canal to supply water for a coastal agricultural project. During the following years the laborers saw rhinoceroses on numerous occasions. I have spoken with some of these persons and they say that there are four animals: one large, two medium-sized and one young. Each is said to have but one single horn. (The Sumatran Rhinoceros has two horns and usually the posterior one is very small and often hard to see. The sondaicus has only one horn). One night a rhino came into a camp and licked the salt from an old shirt that had been thrown away. In March 1957, and again in August 1960, a solitary rhino was seen and photographed on the Lima Blas oil palm estate about five miles from the canal. This animal was identified as sumatrensis.
I hoped to find out more about the rhinoceros population and suggest plans for their future preservation. The Director of the D.I.D. gave me full cooperation and lent his departmental bungalow at the north end of the canal to act as a base camp for a period of two months. The area in which I was interested lay about two miles south of the bungalow. To the west and south of it spreads a vast expanse of swamp forest. To the east is the Bukit Belata Forest Reserve and the northern part is bounded by blocks of forest in which commercial extraction of timber is taking place. Slightly further to the northeast is a new land settlement scheme where more than 600 Malay families will settle on about 9,000 acres. The rhinoceros are therefore living on a kind of island bounded by swamp and human beings.
I was very lucky in seeing one rhino but unlucky in missing the same or others on several later occasions. One morning I had stopped for a short rest when a noise attracted my attention to the left. In a matter of seconds a rhino ambled out of some thickets and walked towards me on the path. Unfortunately it was almost entirely hidden by Bertam palm. It stopped abruptly and stood for a few seconds facing me. After a snort it turned about and trotted off into a patch of dense undergrowth. Although it was only 16 paces from me I was unable to identify the species but I could see that it stood at least 4' 6inch at the shoulders. After this brief encounter I continued to see fresh tracks in various parts of the jungle and in particular at a wallow. I had cleared an overgrown path to reach this mud puddle and having visited it in vain for eight consecutive days I approached from another direction, rather casually, on the ninth day. I had to do a little path clearing and when only 20 yards from the wallow there was a splashing and general commotion, followed by the sound of breaking branches. The time was 11 am and the rhino had been disturbed. The animal had been lying at the side of the wallow and the crashed off into the dense swampy area a few yards away. It returned the next day and continued to do so for a week after which I did not see any signs of it again. Unfortunately there was no suitable tree to construct a platform. There was, however, a fallen tree about three feet in diameter and 20 yards from the wallow, in full view. As it was next to the path used by the rhino I hesitated to build a ground level platform for fear of scaring the animal but I finally decided to put up a rude shelter. The animal paid little attention to it. I rigged up a trip line for flashlight photography but met with no success.
I made plaster of Paris casts of four clear tracks. Taking into account the nature of the ground, there is reason to believe that they were made by at least two and possibly by three animals. The measurements of the tracks are as follows:
Length (from tip to central nail to rear of pad)
Breadth (between tips of lateral nails)
Cast Length Breadth Central Nail
1 21 cm 22 cm 8 cm
2 20 cm 19 cm 6 cm Possibly same animal
3 19 cm 18.5 cm 6 cm Possibly hind foot
4 15 cm 14 cm 5 cm
Summarizing the information available, we know that in 1937 a sondaicus was shot in this vicinity, which is a typical habitat, i.e. low swampy ground. The species is also known to travel to higher levels periodically. The sumatrensis is more apt to be found in the hills near the sources of streams and yet it has been seen on several occasions in this low-lying area (eg. Lima Blas Estate). Among the many small trees about 3 inches in diameter that grow along the paths followed by the rhino and are used as rubbing posts, is one that I measured. Dried mud and absence of bark reached to a height of 4' 2inch above the rhino's tracks. If this were caused by rubbing with the shoulder, then the height of the animal at the shoulder would be about 4' 10inch. This would be too big for a sumatrensis, but the marks could have been made with the head.
I have submitted recommendations that this small area (about 19 square miles) be made a game reserve especially for the rhinoceros. At the time of writing this article, there has not yet been any official declaration, although it is fairly certain to be approved.
(By later mail)
The first week of February I paid another visit to the area and found distinct tracks of three separate animals, including one youngster. One of the laborers also told me that three had been seen together and so we now know for certain that at least three rhinoceroses are living within a comparatively short distance of Kuala Lumpur.

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