Indonesia: Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary


Location: Way Kambas National Parks in Sumatra
Project leader: Bibhab Talukdar
Project partners: Indonesian Rhino Conservation Programme and the International Rhino Foundation
Rhino species: Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) 
Activities: Captive breeding and education
Support: We help raise money to cover the core costs of the Sanctuary: staff salaries, vehicle running costs, veterinary supplies and non-browse nutritional supplements
Funding partners: International Rhino Foundation, BBC Wildlife Fund, Chester Zoo

In recognition of the difficulty of protecting wild populations, in 1984 the IUCN/SSC Asian Rhino Specialist Group recommended that a captive breeding programme be developed, thus establishing a dual approach to Sumatran rhino conservation: protecting wild populations through the RPUs and running a breeding programme at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) within a semi-natural environment in Way Kambas National Park.   

Sumatran Rhino at the SRS

                       Sumatran Rhino at the SRS - Credit SRI

The SRS was developed to accommodate the few remaining rhinos living in isolation in zoos and to increase breeding opportunities. Its objective is to successfully breed Sumatran rhinos, which, as appropriate / feasible, could eventually be reintroduced to the wild. This will be achieved by generating interdisciplinary scholarly knowledge about the basic biology of the Sumatran rhino, using an integrated approach incorporating reproductive biology, nutrition, behaviour, immunology, veterinary medicine, and other disciplines.

100 hectares of high-quality rhino habitat has been fenced and 14 persons are employed, including two veterinarians. Sumatran rhinos have been very difficult to breed, but in recent years, the Cincinnati Zoo (the only captive facility holding Sumatran rhinos) has been very successful in breeding the species, and is working very closely with the SRS by offering in-kind technical as well as financial support. Furthermore, the current population at SRS is integral as a research and “insurance” population for this Critically Endangered species.

Sumatran Rhino at the SRSSumatran rhino at the sanctuary receiving a ''foot scrub''  - Credit SRI

The long-term aim is to develop a scientifically managed and viable captive population that provides a key piece of the integrated conservation management strategy for Sumatran rhinos. The two young female rhinos ''Rosa and Ratu'' and a young male ''Andalas'' at the SRS have now reached sexual maturity. In June 2012, Sumatran rhino calf Andatu was born making history as the first Sumatran rhino birth at a breeding centre in Indonesia.