The New Year seems to be starting off on a positive note for Asian rhinos, with encouraging news about greater one-horned, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos.
Meanwhile, a new initiative in South Africa is launched to rehabilitate rhino calves orphaned by the continuing killing spree.
‘Missing’ rhino located
A straying greater one-horned rhino was found after being “lost” in Manas National Park, near India’s border with Bhutan.
When radio signals from the collar worn by “Rhino3” stopped, the monitoring team sprung into action to locate the wayward rhino.
The search for Rhino3 took nearly a month, and required over 100 elephant hours, 150 kilometers on foot, and 500 liters of fuel.
Finally, Rhino3 was located at one of the ponds in the Charpuli area.
Rhino3 is one of the rhinos reintroduced to Manas from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) initiative.
Women on patrol
In Nepal, the Kanchanjunga Women Group of the Amaltari Mid-zone Forest Users Committee are joining forces to protect greater one-horned rhinos.
According to The Himalayan Times, the women are patrolling the village and forest entry points. Anyone entering without showing proper identification will be under suspicion for rhino poaching.
Meena Mahato, a spokesperson for the group, told the Times: “Daily patrolling is a part of our efforts to protect rhinos living in the local community forest.”
Love in the air for Borneo rhinos?
One of the world’s extremely rare Sumatran rhino subspecies (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni) — a male named “Tam” — may finally have the opportunity to mate.
A young female Borneo rhino named “Puntung” was airlifted from the Sabah rainforest into an enclosed area within the Tabin Wildlife Forest Reserve, where Tam resides.
Check out this video for a rare glimpse of a Borneo rhino:
There are believed to be only around 200 Sumatran rhinos left, with 40 of this subspecies still surviving in areas so fragmented that some may never meet another of their own kind.
Executive director of the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), Junaidi Payne, explained that Puntung has been monitored since 2007, and during that time, she has had no contact with other rhinos.
Learn more at the Borneo Rhino Alliance.
Javan rhino calves!
Camera traps in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park spotted 35 Javan rhinos — including five calves!
This video from 2011 shows two Javan rhinos with their calves:
This encouraging news from the Jakarta Globe indicates that these Javan rhinos are breeding – which gives hope for the survival of this critically endangered species.
However, the sex ratio is skewed: Four of the five calves are are males, and only 13 of the 35 Javan rhinos are females.
To help Javan rhinos, check out Operation Javan Rhino.
Indonesia holds the world’s only population of Javan rhinos, as the Vietnamese subspecies of Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was declared extinct in 2011.
Orphaned rhinos in South Africa
Not only were at least 443 rhinos slaughtered in South Africa last year, many baby rhinos were orphaned.
In an effort to save these young lives, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and rhino rehabilitation expert Karen Trendler have teamed up to form the Rhino Orphan Response Project.
The EWT notes that while some rhino initiatives mean well, they are not always carried out in the calves’ best interest.
While applauding the number of initiatives and projects aimed at stopping the continued carnage, the recent proliferation of so-called ‘calf rescue’ projects does not always fall into the same category. Many exploit rhino calves as marketing and fundraising tools, while humanising and taming them means they cannot be released back into the wild and so require permanent sanctuary.
The Rhino Orphan Response Project aims to rehabilitate calves so they can be released back into the wild.