An eight-year-old Sumatran male rhino has landed safely in Indonesia. It was flown in from a Cincinnati zoo to mate and help save his species from extinction.
Harapan, the rhino born at Cincinnati's zoo, arrived at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport on Sunday (1 November). From there the rhino is being taken to the seaport of Merak to be ferried to Sumatra island, reports AP. He will be handed over to the authorities at Way Kambas National Park, which houses the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.
It is hoped that Harapan can mate with the three female rhinos at Way Kambas. At present, Ratu, a 12-year-old female rhino born in the wild, is pregnant with her second calf. Her first born in 2012 was the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity in Asia. Harapan's brother fathered both of Ratu's calves.
The Sumatran rhino, also known as hairy rhinoceros or Asian two-horned rhinoceros, is a severely threatened species with fewer than 400 Sumatran rhinos alive today. The rhinos rarely breed in captivity. A calf born in the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 was the first successful captive delivery in over 100 years, says National Geographic.
Threats to their survival in the wild include poaching and habitat loss. Illegal logging and clearing of forests for palm oil plantations in Sumatra has impacted the rhino.
The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of the rhino species and the only Asian rhino with two horns. Made of a hair-like substance the horn is used in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore for medicinal purpose. In places like Yemen and North Africa, it is used as ornamental dagger handle.
The Sumatran rhino can also be found in isolated pockets of dense forests in Malaysia and Indonesia. They weigh about 800kg and grow to a height of about five feet at the shoulders and about eight to ten feet in length from front to back.