The trap had been set, but there was no rushing a 770‑kilogram (1,700‑pound) rhino. The conservationists waited and waited and waited. Then, it happened. The rhino stepped onto a leafy spot. It fell into a shallow pit on the forest floor. The conservationists had dug that pit and covered it with leaves. But why did they want to trap a rhino?

It’s all part of a multi‑national plan to save the Sumatran rhino from extinction. It’s called the Sumatran Rhino Rescue.

The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest of the rhino family.

This rhino is now living in the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. Here, it is safe from poachers.

Rhinos in Trouble

All five rhino species are threatened with extinction. Yet, the Sumatran rhino is the most endangered of all. Its number has decreased more than 70 percent over the last 20 years.

Rhinos are sought after for their valuable horns. For centuries, they have been used in Asian medicine. Powdered rhino horn has been prescribed as a medicine for everything from asthma to chicken pox. No proof exists that rhino horns cure illness. Yet, people want them. They can sell for prices that rival gold.

Experts now think there are only 80 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild. These rhinos live in several places between Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo. Their isolation is the greatest threat to their existence.

A Rescue Plan

The Sumatran Rhino Rescue plan is to safely capture as many wild rhinos as possible. The rhinos would be taken to nearby sanctuaries. Scientists and wildlife managers would then assist in the reproduction of the rhinos.

A conservationist measures a rhino track.

Right now, there’s only one place where this captive breeding can happen. It’s called the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. Captive breeding has been tried before. But not enough was known about these rhinos to help them reproduce.

Sumatran rhinos are solitary animals. They don’t live together. A rhino’s pregnancy lasts about 15 months. However, if rhino females can’t find a mate, their bodies change, and it becomes harder for them to become pregnant. This creates a lot of problems. 

Protect The Natural World

Protecting the planet is vital! The National Geographic Society has set a goal to help improve the status of 100 species or populations by 2030.