A rare Sumatran rhinoceros, whose discovery less than a month ago was considered an enormous conservation success, has died. The female rhino was captured on the Indonesian part of Borneo island where the animal was believed to be long extinct.
Nyoman Iswarayoga, a spokesman for World Wildlife Fund Indonesia, said Wednesday that the rhino, named Najaq, died of a leg infection from wounds believed to have been inflicted by poaching traps, the Associated Press reported. Indonesia’s environment ministry confirmed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the rhino succumbed to the infection after her health deteriorated.
“The death of this Sumatran rhino proves they exist on Borneo, so we will continue protecting them,” Tachrir Fathoni, a senior official at the environment ministry, told AFP. The ministry added that an autopsy is being conducted to determine its official cause of death.
According to reports, an estimated 100 Sumatran rhinos remain, mostly in Sumatra, and nine are in captivity. The rhino species, which is the only haired rhinos in the world, is threatened and concerns over its extinction continue because of its poaching for horns and habitat loss.
The rare Sumatran rhino’s discovery was praised by the WWF as “a major milestone for rhino conservation in Indonesia.”
“This is an exciting discovery and a major conservation success,” Efransjah, the chief executive of WWF-Indonesia, who has been identified only by one name, reportedly said at the time. “We now have proof that a species once thought extinct in Kalimantan still roams the forests, and we will now strengthen our efforts to protect this extraordinary species.”