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Expecting My Second Grandchild in The Jungle

I left that place almost three years ago. I cried in the car as my ex-field manager drove me to the local airport. One son, three daughters, and a grandson were left behind. No, I’m not talking about furry kids here, not scaly ones, not even feathery ones. I’m talking about hairy kids. I took care four hairy kids since early 2012 when I was working at Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. Yep, they are Sumatran rhinos, or also known as hairy rhinos.

hairy rhino hair

In June 2012, one of my kids, Ratu, gave birth to Andatu, the first Sumatran rhino calf born in Asia in the last 124 years. He was an instant celebrity and gained thousands of fans worldwide, but he really deserved it. He was the cutest Sumatran rhino calf ever recorded! My heart melted almost immediately when I saw him standing up and taking the first tiny step in life. Come on, look at his cute face below and tell me if you think he’s not cute.

andatu smile.jpg

Last year, we’ve heard that Ratu was expecting the second calf, and that Andatu is going to be a big brother! Of course everyone is happy with the news. I could only pray that the second calf delivery will be as smooth as the first one. I could not be there to watch it, even though I hoped to see the baby after it was born. Last Monday, the field manager called me and asked for my help with the second birth. Can you believe it? My heart almost jumped from joy and excitement! I feel very honored to be given the chance to assist with the birth of my second grandchild 😀

It was a sudden notice, so I only had a day to pack and prepare before leaving early morning the next day. Seven hours car drive and three hours ferry ride it was, but I was so excited to see all my hairy kids again! And oh, Andatu’s uncle, Harapan, was brought back to Sumatra from United States in November last year, so I’ll have the chance to meet him too in this trip. My mind was filled with curiosity, wondering how his personality was, if he was adapting well in the jungle after spending years of living in Cincinnati Zoo, if he shared similar characteristics with Andalas, and so on.

After the exhausting ten-hour journey finally I was there again, back to where my kids are, but it was already late at night when I arrived. Only darkness and cricket chirps greeted me, followed by the same staff who are still taking care of the rhinos. Now it’s time to sleep, and let’s explore the jungle once again tomorrow.

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Welcome Home, Harry!

A mixed of emotions came into my mind as I was reading the news about relocation of Harapan (Harry), the last Sumatran rhino currently lives in Cincinnati Zoo, to his natural habitat in Indonesia.

The extinct woolly rhino, closely related to Sumatran rhino. Source: dinopedia.wikia.com

The extinct woolly rhino, closely related to Sumatran rhino. Source: dinopedia.wikia.com

Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is the only extant descendant of Ice Age woolly rhinos (Coelodonta antiquitatis) which is now faced with extinction due to habitat loss with 50% of the population disappear every 10 years – a very fast pace for a species to go into extinction. In 2015 it is estimated that there are only less than 100 wild individuals of Sumatran rhinos left in the wild, in heavily fragmented populations in Sumatra and (maybe) Borneo.

Earlier this week week, it is officially announced that Sumatran rhino is declared extinct in the wild in Malaysia. This is a very devastating moment for Sumatran rhino conservationists, and pressure is now put on Indonesia’s side to continue to preserve this species.

In captivity, there are currently nine Sumatran rhinos: three in Sabah, Malaysia; one in Cincinnati, which will leave for Indonesia soon; and five in Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS), Indonesia. There are two males in the SRS facilities and they are both related to Harry. Andalas, the only productive male in SRS for the time being, is Harry’s older brother, and Andatu, currently still 3 year old and is not sexually mature yet, is Andalas’ son and Harry’s nephew.

Even though Harry’s homecoming brings hope for the species, the gene pool of captive Sumatran rhinos are small and they all face inbreeding unless a new male Sumatran rhino is captured – a controversial idea remembering almost 90% of over 40 Sumatran rhinos that were captured in the 1990s died within the same year. But that was in 1990s, when very little information was known how to rear Sumatran rhinos in captivity, when nobody knew what they eat and ended up giving them wrong diets. Now everything has changed. Now we know there are over 200 plant species which are edible for Sumatran rhinos. Now we know the behavior of Sumatran rhinos in the wild. Now we know the breeding cycle of the Sumatran rhinos. And until today, there have been four Sumatran rhino calves born in captivity with the help of science and research.

Bina, the only survivor from the 1990s capture. She now lives in Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Indonesia.

Bina, the only survivor from the 1990s capture. She now lives in Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Indonesia. Photo courtesy: Eliza Jinata/Holiztic Vet.

Another alternative to enrich the gene pool is to involve Kretam (Tam), the male Sumatran rhino in Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) in Sabah, Malaysia, in captive breeding program, but until the political issues are put aside between the nations, this is not a solution in the meantime.

We are racing with time here, and I hope any political issues can be put aside to save this primitive species from extinction.

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Fun Fact: Tamaraw

Woo hoo, it’s that time again this week for fun fact Friday! A fun fact a week keeps the foolishness away. Today’s topic is tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis).

This species is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on IUCN Red List and on Appendix I of CITES. The major threats to this species are habitat loss and illegal hunting for human consumption. Now here are 5 fun facts you probably didn’t know about Bubalus mindorensis:

1. They are dwarf giants. It sounds like a paradox and it is. Tamaraw is also known as Mindoro dwarf buffalo, but despite of their mini size, they are still the largest mammal found within Philippine, their native country.

2. They always have time for make-up. Covered mostly in dark colored fur, light markings can be found above their eyes, forming ‘eyebrows’ and some individuals have white spots on their lower cheeks.

Source: philippine-animals-mammals.webs.com

Source: philippine-animals-mammals.webs.com

3. They are shy but curious creatures. They rest in thick vegetation during the day and active at night to eat grasses, bamboo shoots, saplings and other vegetation. They were formerly diurnal but changed their active hours to avoid human encroachment and have become nocturnal. They are solitary and known to show aggressiveness towards other tamaraws. They are also said to charge their pursuer.

4. “V” is their favourite letter. One of striking features of tamaraw is their horns. They are V-shaped, growing from the forehead, has flat back surface and triangular base.

Source: news.mongabay.com

Source: news.mongabay.com

5. They cannot lie about their age. The age of a tamaraw can be seen from its horns. The horns grow longer relative to the length of the ears and broaden at the base. Hence, the horn’s length and thickness can be used to age them. Enjoy reading the fun facts? Do you have a favorite animal or any other animals that you would like me to write the fun facts about? Let me know by commenting below. Spread the info and have a nice weekend! 🙂

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Fun Fact: Gharial

Woo hoo, it’s that time again this week for fun fact Friday! A fun fact a week keeps the foolishness away. Today’s topic is gharial (Gavialis gangeticus).

Source: animalsvariety.ru

Source: animalsvariety.ru

This species is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on IUCN Red List and on Appendix I of CITES. The major threats to this species are habitat loss and degradation due to dam construction and irrigation, and fishing which removes their diet resource and can accidentally kills them. Now here are 5 fun facts you probably didn’t know about Gavialis gangeticus:

1. Gharial is the only extant species from the family Gavialidae. They are closely related to false gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) which is a member of the family Crocodylidae.

2. Their name, gharial, derives from the word ‘ghara’ which means Indian pot, a shape that resembles the male gharial nose’s shape.

San Diego Zoo

Source: wikimedia.com

3. Among other crocodilian species, gharial is the biggest and the longest, measuring up to 6 m. They also have the narrowest snout which enables them to snatch fish underwater quickly.

4. Their weak legs are not able to support their body weight when they walk on land. This becomes a problem during dry season because unlike any other crocodilian species, gharial cannot walk far to find water.

5. Mother gharial does not transport their youngs in the mouth, but they stay together up to several months.

Source: animals.about.com

Source: animals.about.com

Enjoy reading the fun facts? Do you have a favorite animal or any other animals that you would like me to write the fun facts about? Let me know by commenting below. Spread the info and have a nice weekend! 🙂

Source:
http://www.arkive.org/gharial/gavialis-gangeticus/image-G114505.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gharial

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Fun Fact: Forest Owlet

Woo hoo, it’s that time again this week for fun fact Friday! A fun fact a week keeps the foolishness away. Today’s topic is about forest owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti).

This species is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on IUCN Red List and on Appendix I of II of CITES. The major threats to this species are forest destruction due to illegal logging for firewood and timber, encroachment for cultivation and settlements, overgrazing by cattle, and forest fire. Now here are 5 fun facts you probably didn’t know about Heteroglaux blewitti:

Two owlets at their nest hole.

Two owlets at their nest hole.

1. Also known as Forest Owlet, Forest Spotted Owlet, Forest Little Owl due to their small body which measures only 23 cm length.

2. They are back from extinction. They were considered extinct before being rediscovered in 1997, 113 years after the last confirmed record. Before the rediscovery, they were only known from seven specimens collected during the 19th century.

3. They love sunlight and are not shy. Unlike most of its nocturnal (active during the night) relatives, forest owlet is diurnal (active during the day) and crepuscular (active during twilight hours), hunting preys in the morning and evening in open areas with low ground cover.

4. A kind of ‘big foot’ in the bird world. They have big disproportionate talons compared to their small body size. With their large and powerful talons, they have been known to take prey twice their size.

Source: edgeofexistence.org

Source: edgeofexistence.org

5. They dislike their birthplace. It is thought that this owlet prefers subtropical and tropical dry deciduous forest. This is in contrast with most historic records of the species, which have come from moist deciduous forest or dense jungle.

Enjoy reading the fun facts? Do you have a favorite animal or any other animals that you would like me to write the fun facts about? Let me know by commenting below. Spread the info and have a nice weekend! 🙂