Organism of the month Nov 2008 – Sumatran Rhino

Natureheads blog

By the time you read this the wild population of the Sumatran Rhino could be dead. With my low readership I don’t think that’s an exaggeration! No, seriously, they’re nearly all gone. Stop laughing.

Sumatran Rhinos have hardly ever been photographed or filmed, but here are 2 videoclips, one from SOS Rhino and one from WWF.

A project worker with SOS Rhino captured this short ‘once in a lifetime’ clip. Talk about a close encounter!

This WWF videoclip is from an automated camera.

Take a look at SOS Rhino’s great Rhino facts page and the WWF page on the Sumatran Rhino too. As you can see, there is even disagreement about how many are left in the wild! (300 or 30) Sadly the story is very similar for the Javan Rhino, which might have even fewer remaining individuals on the planet.

What you eat and drink might have an influence. Palm Oil is an ingredient in lots of different foods (including perhaps your Peanut Butter) and its plantations are taking the place of local rainforest essential for the rhinos. WWF has also revealed that coffee illegally grown in a national park is eating into the protection zones vital for the Sumatran Rhino at Bukit Barisan Selatan. Your favourite coffee maker could be buying from this coffee source! Thanks for the information WWF- but I can’t see anything about this on your Borneo and Sumatra Results page or interactive flash projects map. What’s happening?

So far on the Natureheads blog the ‘organism of the month’ has been an invertebrate – in fact I think they’ve all been insects. No apologies – they don’t get as much attention as they deserve. And yes, I have complained about the fact that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) focus far too much on mammals in the IUCN Red List (it was encouraging to see the Purple Marsh Crab featured in a case study on their website) …

Anyway, I had to give up some time and respect for the plight of the smallest rhinoceros in the world. There is so little known about the very secretive and shy Dicerorhinus sumatrensis that we won’t really know what we’re missing when (if?) it becomes extinct. Scientific study has had hardly any time to develop much of an archive on this rhino, which is very difficult to study.

Apparently they only get to about two-and-a-half metres in length, about the height of my shoulder, and a little heavier than I am, at 500 – 800 kilos. Maybe that has something to do with the 17-month gestation period? Wow.

One day I’d like to see a Rhino in those forests. A small, hairy, snuffling rhino. A peaceful vegetarian. Nevertheless, I’d like to be up a tree so I’m out of the way of the huge, hefty girl, as she might be a bit miffed to find me on her favourite path that night, and she might even be a bit grumpy and hormonal.


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One Response to “Organism of the month Nov 2008 – Sumatran Rhino”

  1. Pages tagged "rhinoceros" Says:

    […] bookmarks tagged rhinoceros Organism of the month Nov 2008 – Sumatran Rhino saved by 5 others     koppite83 bookmarked on 11/28/08 | […]

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