Environment News


Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Environment [Paper-II]: Biodiversity – its importance and concerns, Environment protection for sustainable development


Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is now extinct in Malaysia following the death of its last captive individual, Iman.

About Sumatran Rhino

  • Sumatran rhino is a mostly solitary animal except for courtship and offspring-rearing. They are the only Asian rhino with two horns.
  • It is the most vocal rhino species and also communicates through marking soil with its feet, twisting saplings into patterns, and leaving excrement.
  • It is the smallest of the five extant rhino species in the world.
  • The other rhino species include the White Rhino, the Black Rhino, the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros and the Javan Rhino.


  • Earlier, they were found across parts of Southeast Asia, including the foothills of Bhutan and northeast India, southern China, Cambodia and Thailand.
  • Now, they are restricted to just a few sites in Sumatra and Borneo, in Indonesia.


  • They live in dense tropical forest, in both the lowlands and highlands.
  • They are well adapted to life in very dense tropical forests.
  • They are primarily attracted to areas with plentiful food resources, such as shrubs, fruits, shoots, leaves and roots

Sumatran Rhino in India

  • In the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century, the Sumatran rhinoceros occurred in parts of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Northern Bengal, Bhutan, Comilla and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
  • The last Sumatran Rhino of India was killed in 1967.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN’s Red List identifies the Sumatran rhinoceros as Critically Endangered.


  • It once roamed across Asia as far as India, but its numbers have shrunk drastically due to deforestation and poaching.
  • The small and fragmented nature of their populations and a correspondingly low birthrate are the biggest threat to their survival.
  • There are now only an estimated 80 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, clustered into three isolated populations on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, along with a few individuals in Indonesian Borneo.
  • Indonesian government officials have reached a consensus that the only way to bring the Sumatran Rhino back from the brink is to relocate the widely dispersed wild populations to managed breeding facilities designed specifically for their care.

Sumatran Rhino Rescue

  • It aims to find the remaining wild Sumatran rhinos and bring them to sanctuaries where they can more easily breed.
  • Its long-term goal is to return a larger, healthier population to the wild.
  • The initiative includes WWF, the Indonesian government, IUCN, Global Wildlife Conservation, National Geographic Society, and the International Rhino Foundation.

[Source: Down To Earth, iucn.org]

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