Borneo’s Sumatran rhinos
Borneo's Sumatran rhinoceros
Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni
The majority of the few remaining individuals of the subspecies Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni occur in Tabin National Park in Sabah (Malaysia), with some also in the Danum Valley (also in Sabah).
The total population in Sabah is likely to be about 50 individuals.
IUCN: Critically Endangered
Did you know?
In March 2013, rhino footprints were discovered in east Kalimantan, the first time in over two decades that traces of the elusive rhino have appeared in the area.
Threats to Borneo's Sumatran rhinos
The creation of access roads deep into the rhino's forest home leads to an influx of poachers who target rhinos, especially in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and several areas adjacent to the Danum Valley Forest Reserve.
Previous population and distribution
Population and distribution
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Borneo subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros was widespread over the island of Borneo.
The subspecies suffered a serious decline in distribution and numbers due to prolonged illegal hunting.
By the early 1980s, loss of forest habitat through conversion to permanent agriculture – particularly palm oil plantations – had become another significant threat.
Current population and distribution
The Borneo Sumatran rhino is now possibly extinct in Sarawak (Malaysia). There are perhaps fewer than 50 surviving in Sabah (Malaysia). In March 2013, rhino footprints were discovered in east Kalimantan, the first time in over two decades that traces of the elusive rhino have appeared in the area. .
Only two populations with good prospects
Only two areas in Sabah (Tabin and the Ulu Segama-Kuamut area) contain rhino populations which have good prospects of long-term survival with adequate protection and management.
The Tabin population was under pressure from forest loss and was afforded protection by the Sabah government in 1984 through the establishment of the 1,225 km² Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
The Ulu Segama-Kuamut population is scattered through a vast area of several contiguous forest reserves, but probably centred within an area of less than 4,000 km² in the catchment areas of the upper Segama and upper Kuamut Rivers. This latter area includes the Danum Valley and Maliau Basin Conservation areas in the Sabah Foundation's 100-year logging concession.
Locating the rhinos
Surveys have been conducted at both these sites and the population is known to range down to the border between Sabah and East Kalimantan where surveys have also been conducted recently. A small population has been identified in the Kulamba Wildlife Reserve, and isolated individuals have been identified up until at least 1998 in several other areas, including Pangi Forest Reserve in the Lower Kinabatangan.
Two other areas known to contain rhinos may possibly prove to be important for the species' conservation: the Segaluid-Lokan/Deramakot/Tangkulap Forest Reserves and the Muruk Miau area adjacent to the border with East Kalimantan. Both, however, have been subject to recent disturbance, either by fragmentation or by commercial logging.
ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
Typically, the horn is hacked from the rhino’s face with a chainsaw. The horn’s then airlifted away and sold by global criminal networks.
Within 48 hours its horn could be on sale in an Asian marketplace. Meanwhile, it may take a rhino the same length of time to bleed to death.
Learn more about Illegal Wildlife Trade.