Indonesia: The Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary

All images on this page are courtesy of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry. 

With fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos surviving on Earth – and some estimates putting the number at less than 30 individuals – the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary provides a ray of hope for this incredible species.

The problem

As with other rhino species, it was poaching for rhino horn that originally caused the decline in Sumatran rhino numbers. Increasingly, however, the very small number of Sumatran rhinos is itself the biggest threat to their survival. Rhinos may be struggling to meet and breed in the wild, and it puts them at risk of extinction through catastrophic events. Their last remaining habitats are also under threat from human encroachment.

How is the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary tackling this problem?

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 for Sumatran rhinos. This is the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary – an area of 100 hectares of high-quality rhino habitat in Way Kambas National Park in Indonesia.

The Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary was developed to accommodate the few remaining Sumatran rhinos that were living in isolation in zoos around the world. Its objective is to successfully breed Sumatran rhinos, which, as appropriate / feasible, could eventually be reintroduced to the wild. At the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, the rhinos live a semi-wild existence, but they are also heavily protected, and able to be part of a breeding programme. The rhinos at the Sanctuary are integral as a research and insurance population for this Critically Endangered species.

The long-term aim is to develop a scientifically managed and viable captive population. The two young female rhinos ”Rosa and Ratu” and a young male ”Andalas” reached sexual maturity and in June 2012, Sumatran rhino calf Andatu was born, making history as the first Sumatran rhino birth at a breeding centre in Indonesia. A second calf, Delilah, was born in 2016.

Thanks to the success of the breeding programme, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary has recently doubled in size to allow space for more rhinos. Each rhino boma is approximately 30 acres, providing access to native plant species for food and mud wallows, which the rhinos use for bathing.

Our work

Save the Rhino International has been supporting the core running costs of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. This includes things like paying for staff salaries, vehicle running costs, veterinary supplies, and food and non-browse nutritional supplements for rhinos. Most recently, our funds have contributed towards doubling the capacity of the the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary for holding and breeding Sumatran rhinos. The new state-of-the-art breeding facility is a major achievement towards saving this species from the brink of extinction.

Hope for the Sumatran rhino might seem like an oxymoron, when faced with reports of declining numbers, habitat fragmentation, and human encroachment. But your donations are allowing us to make a real difference to the future of this ancient rhino.


Sumatran rhino

(Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)


Captive Breeding




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