ANDATU may be the future of his species.
The hairy little six-month-old is the first Sumatran rhinoceros born in captivity in Indonesia and it’s hoped he, and future captive-bred Sumatran rhinos, can be released into the wild to re-establish a population devastated by habitat loss and poaching.
There are fewer than 200 of the animals now living in the wild in isolated pockets of Malaysia, Indonesia, and possibly, Burma.
They are the world’s smallest rhinos, at just 1.5m tall, and unlike other rhinos are covered in hair.
“We now know it is possible to create more Sumatran rhino in captivity, the next step is to restock in the wild,” said Peter Hall, the head of a $1.5 billion Sydney ethical investment company and patron of the Australian-based Asian Rhino Project.
“Just as the southern white rhino in Africa bounced back from just 20 individual animals to now more than 20,000 we can save the Sumatran rhino.”
The Asian rhino project, part of Australia’s Wildlife Asia organisation, is launching a fundraising drive for the 100ha Sumatran rhino sanctuary within the Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, where Andatu was born.
sWildlife Asia and the Asian Rhino Project want the Federal government to create a Regional Biodiversity Fund to help with projects in our region like the captive rhino breeding program and hope industry will match donations made by private philanthropists like Mr Hall.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has declared 2012-2013 the International Year of the Rhino and is calling for international assistance, while wildlife documentary legend David Attenborough’s new series, Attenborough’s Ark, which is based on his list of ten species which desperately need help to survive, includes the Sumatran rhinoceros.