Elderly Malaysian rhino enlisted in breeding attempt

September 23, 2010
This undated handout photograh released by the Indonesian Rhino Foundation (SRS-YABI) shows a highly endangered Sumatran rhino. Malaysian wildlife officials on Borneo island said Thursday they will try to artificially inseminate an elderly female Sumatran rhinoceros in a bid to revive one of the world's most endangered species.

Malaysian wildlife officials on Borneo island said Thursday they will try to artificially inseminate an elderly female rhinoceros in a bid to revive one of the world's most endangered species.

Gelegub, a Sumatran rhino who at 28-years-old is equivalent to a 70-something grandmother in human terms, will be impregnated with sperm from a virile young male rhino.

"Gelegub is too old to mate normally and the mating ritual of is quite violent so this would be one of the best ways to try and get her pregnant and give birth to a rhino in captivity," said Sen Nathan, coordinator of the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary where the procedure will be carried out.

Nathan said the only breeding facility in the world that has had any success in producing Sumatran rhino calves in captivity is the Cincinnati Zoo in the United States, which has produced three calves over the last decade.

"Our priority of course is to have natural mating in the first place but at the moment we only have one male rhino in captivity and Gelegub is the only other viable female that we have," he told AFP.

"It is critical that we try and get the rhinos to reproduce as there are only 50 such rhinos in the region and without reproduction, they face imminent extinction."

Nathan said Gelegub will be injected with hormones in November to stimulate the production of eggs, which will be removed and fertilised, hopefully producing viable embryos for implantation.

Spare embryos will be frozen for implantation in surrogates at a later date.

Between 30 to 50 of the Borneo sub-species of the Sumatran rhinos are known to remain in the wild in Borneo -- a vast island shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

It is distinguished from other Sumatran rhinos by its relatively small size, small teeth and distinctively shaped head.

Only 150 to 300 Sumatran rhino are known to exist in the wild, making it one of the world's most endangered species, with only small groups left on Indonesia's Sumatra island, the north of Borneo and peninsular Malaysia.

Explore further: Poaching may destroy last Sumatran rhinos

Related Stories

Poaching may destroy last Sumatran rhinos

March 19, 2006

Poaching has greatly reduced Malaysia's population of Sumatran rhinoceroses, but a small group of 13 are holding on, says the World Wildlife Fund.

First picture of wild Borneo rhino taken

June 15, 2006

The World Wildlife Fund says the first-ever picture of a rhino in the wild on the island of Borneo has been taken using a motion-triggered camera trap.

Sumatran Rhino Seen in Borneo Jungles

September 9, 2006

(AP) -- Wildlife rangers have made the first-ever sighting of a Sumatran rhino deep in the jungles of Borneo, taking video and photos of a single male after a decade-long search, conservationists said Friday.

Rare Borneo rhino caught on camera in Malaysia

April 21, 2010

A rare Borneo rhino, thought to be pregnant, has been caught on camera in Malaysia, and wildlife experts said Wednesday a new calf would be a lifeline for the near-extinct species.

Recommended for you

New lizard named after Sir David Attenborough

August 3, 2015

A research team led by Dr Martin Whiting from the Department of Biological Sciences recently discovered a beautifully coloured new species of flat lizard, which they have named Platysaurus attenboroughi, after Sir David Attenborough.

A look at living cells down to individual molecules

August 3, 2015

EPFL scientists have been able to produce footage of the evolution of living cells at a nanoscale resolution by combining atomic force microscopy and an a super resolution optical imaging system that follows molecules that ...

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

July 29, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.