Extremely Rare Rhino Found Last Month Dies

Najaq proved Sumatran rhinos aren't extinct in Borneo
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2016 6:20 PM CDT
Extremely Rare Rhino Found Last Month Dies
A Sumatran rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A Sumatran rhino, whose discovery in the wild last month was "hailed as a landmark conservation success," has died only weeks later, AFP reports. According to National Geographic, the rhino, named Najaq, was captured March 12 in Indonesian Borneo in a trap set by conservationists hoping to move any surviving rhinos to a nearby sanctuary. With only 100 or so left in the wild, Sumatran rhinos are thought to be one of the rarest mammals on Earth. The area where Najaq was caught is considered to be unsafe due to its proximity to mining operations and plantations. The female rhino, believed to be 4 or 5 years old, was in failing health and eventually died from a leg infection, which appears to have been caused by an earlier poaching attempt.

The capturing of Najaq was seen as a big deal because it was the first contact conservationists had with a Sumatran rhino in Indonesian Borneo in 40 years. Until 2013, when hidden cameras captured images of the rare rhinos, they were assumed to be extinct on the Indonesian portion of the island. They were declared extinct in Malaysian Borneo last year, Fox News reports. In addition to plantations and mining, Sumatran rhinos are at risk from poaching. Their horns are believed to be good for health, despite scientific research to the contrary. While conservationists are disappointed to lose Najaq, her death won't be in vain. She proved Sumatran rhinos still exist on Borneo and need help to survive. "We will continue protecting them," AFP quotes an Indonesian official. (Read more Sumatran rhino stories.)

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