The Guardian always has their top picks of the week for wildlife pictures, and they pick some really good ones! From this week, my favorite picture was of the Orange Tip butterfly (number 9), but I decided to elaborate on the story of the Sumatran rhino (number 14). The picture shown is the first remote camera picture of a Sumatran rhino in the wild. The Sumatran rhino is critically endangered, and there are less than 200 of them left in the world.
Here is a slightly more in-depth article on the rhino findings: Traces of Sumatran Rhino Found in Kalimantan. While monitoring orangutan activity, the WWF Indonesia team found traces of the rhino in Borneo, including “rhino foot trails, mud holes, traces of rhino-rubbed trees, traces of rhino horns on the walls of mud holes, and rhino bites on small branches.” This news is exciting not only because of the rhino’s critically endangered status, but because Sumatran rhinos where thought to be extinct in Borneo since the 1990s. There are plans being made for more extensive surveys to determine the habitat usage and population estimates of the rhinos.
If you want to learn more about Sumatran rhinos, you can visit WWF’s website on them. It’s a pretty cool website for species summaries, and they have several other endangered species you can learn about. The Sumatran rhino has/had three subspecies, but scientists believe only the western and eastern Sumatran rhinos exist today. The next “stage” for the rhinos after critically endangered will be “extinct in the wild,” which may mean the end of the species because only two captive females have been able to reproduce in the last 15 years. The only rhino species doing worse than the Sumatran rhino is the Javan rhino. The only known location of the Javan rhino is the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia, and there are as few as 35 individuals left!
Extra: I just found out that Animal Planet airs a show called Battleground: Rhino Wars. Since almost 700 rhinos were killed last year alone, plus the rising death toll for park rangers (over 100), U.S. Special Forces have been sent in to improve rhino protection. I can’t believe we need Navy Seals to protect wildlife, but I’m glad the issue is being taken seriously. Hopefully the show will also spur more support and awareness for these animals.