Rare rhino’s capture may help protect her species from extinction

A veterinarian attends to Puntung, a newly captured female Sumatran rhinoceros in Lahad Datu, Borneo. (STAFF/REUTERS)

Animal experts have captured a rare female Borneo Sumatran rhino in what they are saying may be the last chance to save the bristly, snub-nosed animal.

Scientists believe there are fewer than 40 of the animals in the wild. They live in the jungles of Borneo, an island in the Indian Ocean between Vietnam and Australia. The Borneo Sumatran rhino is the world’s smallest rhino species. They stand about four feet tall at the shoulder.

Last week, wildlife authorities captured a female nicknamed Puntung. She will be brought to a forest preserve to possibly mate with Tam, a male rhino who was rescued when a leg injury made it impossible for him to live in the wild.

Bringing Puntung and Tam together is “a fantastic gift for our uphill battle in ensuring the survival of this truly unique species,” said wildlife department director Laurentius Ambu. “This is now the very last chance to save this species, one of the most ancient forms of mammal.”

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