Researchers on the Indonesian island of Borneo recently captured footage of a Sumatran rhino living in the forests of East Kalimatan, an area where it was thought to have been extinct.
The smallest of all rhino species, the Sumatran rhino has been decimated by poaching. Rhino horn is popular in Chinese medicine, and one kilogram of Sumatran horn can fetch up to $30,000.
Habitat destruction has also been a problem for the species, which do not look like their African and Indian cousins. They are smaller, and their hides are covered in patches of stiff hair. There are only about 300 Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis) left living in the wild.
The World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia set up 16 cameras in the forest of Kurai Barat, the only area where they believed the rhino might still live. The cameras rolled for three months.
At this week's Asian Rhino Range States Ministerial Meeting in Lampung, Indonesia, the team released footage that shows their hunch was correct. At least one Sumatran rhino still lives in the forests there.
Captured on June 23, June 30 and August 3, the footage shows one rhino foraging for food and what appears to be a different rhino doing what rhinos are famous for: splashing in a muddy watering hole to cool down. Further research will be needed to confirm if they are actually two different animals.
"This physical evidence is very important, as it forms the basis to develop and implement more comprehensive conservation efforts for the Indonesian rhinoceros," Kalimatan Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said in a press release.
"This finding represents the hard work of many parties, and will hopefully contribute to achieving Indonesia's target of three percent per year rhino population growth," he added.
The team will now try to determine how many Sumatran rhinos are living in Kalimatan, and look into conservation measures. The most important priority is to protect against poachers.
"To ensure the protection of the species, a joint monitoring team from the Kutai Barat administration, Rhino Protection Unit, and WWF have been conducting regular patrols around the area," added Conservation Director Nazir Foead. "WWF calls on all parties, in Indonesia and around the world, to immediately join the effort to conserve the Indonesian rhinoceros."