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Way Kambas National Park milestone breakthrough with birth of Sumatran Rhino
Although the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung at the southern tip of Sumatra is better known as habitat of the Sumatran Elephant, - yet since 23 June 2012 the Park is now celebrated worldwide as the venue of the first controlled birth of the Sumatran rhinoceros in its habitat - only the fourth in the past 124 years.
Given the name “Andatu: meaning the Gift of God, the birth of the baby rhino at 00.45 hrs on Saturday morning, 23 June 2012, was watched by the minute, and at its appearance wildly cheered by the attending vets and staff, outroaring a goal made in the ongoing Euro Cup 2012 Finals, said Widodo Ramono, Executive Director of the Indonesian Rhino Institute, YABI.
As a matter of fact, the name Andatu is also a combination of the names of its father “Andalas” (meaning “Sumatra”) and its mother, Ratu (meaning Queen).
The 100 hectares Sumatran Rhino breeding Sanctuary in Way Kambas , which was started in 1998, has four inhabitants, three females named Ratu, Rosa and Bina, and one male called Andalas, who was born in 2001 in Cincinatti, USA and mated to Ratu. Andalas replaced an earlier male rhino that died. Ratu had two miscarriages in two previous attempts. Therefore, her present full pregnancy to 16 months and the natural birth of the baby rhino was celebrated as a breakthrough milestone in the conservation and breeding of this worldwide critically endangered animal.
Since Ratu was in heat, the team of vets from Indonesia, Australia, the United States and the IUCN Nature Conservation observed her daily, feeding vitamins and supplements to strengthen her womb. A female rhino has only 24 days of fertility and only four days of possible fruition. When not in the mood, the male and female can get into fights. Next, Andalas is geared to mate with Rosa.
At present there are only some 200 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild, mostly in the extensive Gunung Leuser National Park in the northern end of the island of Sumatra, and less than 50 one-horned Java rhinos remaining in the Ujung Kulon National located in West Java’s most southern tip.
Indonesian rhinos are very shy and solitary, living in dense forests, and are, therefore, very difficult to track. In the Ujung Kulon Park, the Java Rhino can only be followed through carefully placed CCTVs. The animals are also caught on camera only at night. Latest photos taken , however, show a female and her young, giving hope that also here a new generation is emerging.
Forestry Minister, Zulkifli Hasan, expressing his enthusiasm at this phenomenal birth, added that through the successful birth of Andatu, - the Sumatran Rhino, - in the 2012 International Rhino Year - Indonesia has shown to the world its most serious and sincere efforts to preserve these highly endangered animals , while taking care of the country’s wildlife and its natural environment.