Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rhino heroes earn kudos

They work at a remote rainforest, spending extended periods away from home determined to do their bit to save the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros through a captive breeding programme.

It is this dedication that led Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) field staff who work under overall supervision of the Sabah Wildlife Department, to assist Department staff in finally capturing elusive female rhino Puntung at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve last month.

Pending tests, Puntung is potentially a mate for Tam, a rhino that walked out of a forest and into a plantation in 2008, and who is now housed at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) captive breeding interim facility in Tabin, over an hour by road from here.

The BORA Management Board led by its chairman Dr Abdul Hamid Ahmad on Friday presented 21 field staff with certificates of appreciation, applauding them for their hard work and willingness to live in a rural location away from family for long periods.

“The successful capture of Puntung required various types of resources, and effort. The most important of all was the hard work over months and years among people working on the ground. Our staff worked at all times in collaboration with Sabah Wildlife Department staff in Tabin.

“At any one time, BORA alone had about 20 people involved one way or another in the capture of Puntung as well as the care of rhinos Tam and Gelogob who were already at the interim facility.

“On behalf of the BORA management, I express my sincere thanks to the staff for their dedication over the past two years. Without their effort, today we would not have Puntung,” Abdul Hamid said in a Press release issued by BORA.

BORA is a non-governmental organisation that is currently assisting the Sabah Wildlife Department in the development of the BRS, a programme of the Sabah Government that kicked-off in 2009 to prevent the extinction of rhinos in Sabah through captive breeding.

The BRS programme aims to bring rhinos from non-viable situations where the mammal exists but is not breeding, to a facility that will maximise chances for reproductive success.

Abdul Hamid said BORA staff are also involved in patrolling and guarding the general area, building and monitoring traps, caring for rhinos and carrying out administrative duties and management of assets.

“Tremendous self discipline is needed to stick with this sort of work and to maintain a harmonious environment,” Abdul Hamid who is also Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation director, said.

BORA field staff Justine Segunting, 33, said he was proud to receive the certificate and sees it as a recognition that will further encourage him and his colleagues to work on rhino conservation.

“It took us almost two years to find Puntung. I was one of the first staff to see her, and nothing can describe how I felt at that time.

“We worked around the clock from when Puntung was found on Dec 18 (last year) to when she was brought to the interim facility on Christmas day. We sacrificed our Christmas leave, as we could not go home to celebrate, but it does not matter,” Segunting who is from Telupid, about 200km from here, said.
Segunting said he has worked in the forest for eight years including with another NGO and cannot see himself doing anything else.

“This job is my best experience and is something I am passionate about. The survival of rhinos is at stake, and I want to play my part in saving the species,” he said.

Rajimah Kasran, 26, one of only two women involved in field work said it was a relief that Puntung was not captured by poachers who prize rhino horn for traditional medicine.

“We have been tracking Puntung for years and we were worried that poachers might get her. I am so glad that she is now with us and doing well in the interim facility,” she said.

Rajimah of Kampung Dagat in the Segama area, only returns home about five times a year despite monthly leave as all she can think of is her work in rhino conservation.

“When I first started working in Tabin in 2004 through another NGO, I did not know anything about rhinos or why we needed to protect them. Now, all I think about is what I can do to help prevent extinction of rhinos,” she said.

The Sumatran rhino is amongst the most endangered species in the world, and needs urgent and sustained action to prevent its extinction. It is listed as a totally protected mammal under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Apart from one female in Cincinnati Zoo in the United States, all breeding female rhinos of this species are now known to exist only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
To date, core funding for development and operation of the BRS has come primarily from the Sime Darby Foundation and from the Government, with extra help from WWF-Germany.

Green Sabah says:  The Sumatran Rhino currently only exist in Sumatra and Borneo and its a species that is slowly going extinct. We must take urgent actions in order to preserve them and a good job to all who are involved in protecting and preserving the Rhinoceros.


DorianG said...

Hopefully similar efforts will be conducted for other endangered species within Sabah.

DorianG said...

This will ensure the our future generation will have a chance to see our bio-diversity heritage

Mohd Ishak said...

Syabas kepada mereka yang terlibat dalam pelindungan Badak Sumatera ini, harap pembiakan badak Sumatera adalah berjaya supaya jenis ini tidak akan menghadapi kepupusan.

Mohd Ishak said...

Harap BORA akan teruskan usaha melindungi dan mengekalkan spesis badak sumatera ini dengan baik.

Hinamori said...

The Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is a member of the family Rhinocerotidae and one of five extant rhinoceroses. It is the only extant species of the genus Dicerorhinus. It is the smallest rhinoceros, although is still a large mammal.

Kris Jr said...

The Sumatran Rhino is a mostly solitary animal except for courtship and child-rearing. It is the most vocal rhino species and also communicates through marking soil with its feet, twisting saplings into patterns, and leaving excrement.

Anonymous said...

kita harus lindungi Badak sumatra dari kepupusan.

Anonymous said...

good effort from Borneo Rhino Alliance. keep the good work.

Anonymous said...

I don't think our rhinos will going extinct as long as there are NGO who really doing they job like BORA..

Anonymous said...

It is our responsibility to protect the endangered species.

Anonymous said...

Through this good effort and commitment, it will give new hope for the endangered species to live longer and breed more.

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