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Rare Sumatran Rhino Seen in Indonesian Borneo for the First Time in 40 Years

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Researchers have made contact with a wild Sumatran rhino in Indonesian Borneo after more than 40 years without a live sighting, the WWF conservation organization confirmed Tuesday.

“This unprecedented discovery and unparalleled operation boosts our hope to save one of the most endangered species,” the director general of WWF International Marco Lambertini said in a statement.

Until the 4- or 5-year-old female was safely captured on March 12, the only proof of the rare species’ continued existence in the area was stray footprints and an occasional camera trap photograph. She will be transported from her temporary enclosure to a protected forest nearby.

Today, less than 100 Sumatran rhinos still live in the wild as the animals face continued threat from poaching and habitat loss from logging. The rhino species was declared extinct in the Malaysian part of Borneo last year. The species, which is not only hairy but also the smallest of the rhinos, once roamed from Himalayan foothills to the Malay Peninsula.

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Write to Mark Rivett-Carnac at mark.rivett-carnac@timeasia.com