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Foose, T.J., 1995. The hairy rhino within a hair's breadth of extinction. Around the Horn 3 (1): 1-3

Location: World
Subject: Management - Programs
Species: Sumatran Rhino

Original text on this topic:
Ex situ captive propagation had been considered an important component in the strategy for Sumatran rhino. However, since the inception of the ex situ programs in 1984, 39 rhino have been captured and 19 of these have died, a mortality of almost 50%. The most recent deaths have been the tragic losses of both of the Sumatran rhino at the San Diego Zoo in February 1995. Exacerbating the high mortality has been the lack of any reproduction in captivity. One female was bom at the Malacca Zoo in 1987 but to a female that was captured pregnant although most of the gesta- tion transpired in captivity. Another female had died at Port Lympne in the United Kingdom in November of 1994. Onlv 20 (7/13) Sumatran rhino survive in captivity at 9 facilities in four countries.
The reasons for the high mortality and lack of reproduction are not known. However, there is significant and growing opinion that success of intensive (i.e. captive) management and managed breeding of Sumatran rhinos may require the rhino to be maintained in larger enclosures. Some Sumatran rhino ecologists in particular advocate that females and males be totally separated except when females are in estrus, a social system believed to prevail in the wild.
Two major intiatives are under development to create such Sumatran rhino centers.
(1) The Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Malaysia has actually been moving in this direction for some time. They have established a breeding center at the edge of Sungai Dusun Wildlife Sanctuary. The diet of rhino there is largely natural browse collected from the adjacent forest. However, the enclosures are still relatively small (about 2 acres each); females cannot be widely separated from males; and the rhino have no opportunity to select browse from the forest themselves. This situation is being improved by enlarging the existing enclosures to about 25 acres and extending them into the forest.
(2) Efforts are in progress to establish a managed breeding center (being referred to as a Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary or SRS) in native habitat in Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra. At least two enclosures of 25 acres each will be provided for each rhino. The enclosures will be configured to permit separation of the sexes except when females are in estrus. The initial breeding stock will be derived from rhino currently in captivity in Indonesia, probably supplemented by the repatriation of the male surviving at Port Lympne in the United Kingdom. This project is being developed as a joint venture by the Indonesian Department of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA), the Indonesian Friends of Rhino Foundation (Yayasan Mitra Rhino), and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) with a growing number of other partners from the captive conservation community. Moreover, the SRS will comprise two major programs: the biological for the rhino but also a conservation tourist program that is envisioned as capable of generating revenue to support not only the SRS but also to contribute to rhino conservation elsewhere in Indonesia.

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