The Sumatran rhinoceros have always been known to be extinct in Malaysia. However, there is high chance that these rhinos could still be roaming around the rainforests in Sabah because footprints were recently discovered that could have belonged to the species!
A team from the WWF Sabah Terrestrial Conversation Programme spotted a 23cm-wide footprint in Sabah’s Danum Valley Conservation Area. Initially, the team thought that the footprint came from a baby elephant, but there was actually no sign of elephants within the vicinity at the time.
Unfortunately, the team cannot confirm this finding as they did not see the animal itself. The footprint was found within the conservation area but outside the safe zone. The team was concerned due to possible signs of human encroachment and poachers in the area. “The Forestry Department has been doing a good job with enforcement and patrolling regularly but meantime, we hope the rhino has moved up into higher ridges of the forest,” said Sharon Koh, WWF Sabah Terrestrial Conversation Programme Manager.
Image: WWF Malaysia
Last year, the Sumatran rhinos were declared extinct from Malaysian jungles with only three of them being held in captivity at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Sabah. All three of them are currently facing reproductive system problems and are regrettably unable to breed even with the help of scientists.
None of them have been spotted in the wild since 2011 and the last one spotted in Peninsular Malaysia was in 2007. There is only a small population left in Indonesia. So let’s hope that the footprint found indeed belonged to a Sumatran rhino!