Najaq, the critically endangered female Sumatran rhino discovered last week has died. This is a major blow to conservation efforts as many hailed this discovery as a landmark conservation success. It was the first animal seen in over 40 years after they were assumed extinct in the wild.
Late last month a Sumatran rhino was caught in a pit trap near mining operations and plantations in the Kalimanata province of Indonesia. It was clear that the animal was struggling to survive. After the female was rescued from the pit, her leg became infected and her health deteriorated quickly.
While her death proves that at the Sumatran rhino still exists in the wild, it also indicates that they are still very much critically endangered. Tachrir Fathoni, a senior official a the environmental ministry stated, “The death of this Sumatran rhino proves they exist on Borneo, so we will continue protecting them.”
A post-mortem necropsy will be conducted to determine an official cause of death. Zoo Nation shares the feelings expressed by most conservationists. We are saddened by the tragic loss of Najaq, but still excited about her discovery and the hope it provides for the species. If anything, it shows that saving a species such as this can be difficult and challenging. Nonetheless, conservationists are more determined than ever to save this species. There is estimated to be only 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild largely due to poaching and land clearing for mining and palm oil plantations.