Malaysia: Use advanced technologies to save rhinos

The Star 12 Dec 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Advanced reproductive and cellular technologies may be the only methods left to ensure the survival of the highly endangered rhinos in Sabah.

Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) executive director Datuk Dr John Payne said that given the nature of the evidence provided and collective fieldwork by various agencies, it is highly unlikely there are wild rhinos surviving anywhere in Sabah.

He said prevention of the extinction of this ancient genus, distinct from the African and Indian species, had gone beyond retaining a few individuals in the wild.

“Rescue from the brink will not entail protecting a few stragglers in the wild because for the past few decades there have been too few individuals in any one area to form a viable breeding population,” he said in a statement.

“Success can come only through implementation of a single programme that allows every remaining Sumatran rhino, whether in Malaysia or Indonesia, to contribute its genes to producing babies.”

He said even though about a quarter of the remaining Sumatran rhinos had significant reproductive pathologies, rapidly advancing reproductive and cellular technologies could be tapped to boost the rate at which embryos were made.

“We cannot just rely on hope to save this endangered species,” he said amid a possible discovery of a rhino footprint in a Sabah forest that was announced at a seminar on Danum Valley recently.