An 8-year-old male Sumatran rhino named Harapan (hope) walks inside a cage at Way Kambas National Park on Sumatra Island Indonesia, Thursday, Nov 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Endagered rhino travels from Ohio to Indonesia
November 05, 2015
A U.S.-born male Sumatran rhino has landed in his ancestral home of Indonesia. The rhino made the long journey from Cincinnati, Ohio. The animal is on a mission to mate. The hope is that the rhino will help save his critically endangered species from extinction.
The 8-year-old rhino is Harapan. He was born at Cincinnati's zoo. He spent nearly the past two years as the last Sumatran rhino in the Western Hemisphere.
He got to Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport Nov. 1. The rhino traveled in a special crate. It was flown aboard a Cathay Pacific jet. He continued his trip in a truck. It went to the seaport of Merak. He then was to be ferried to Sumatra Island.
"Thankfully, it has arrived here," said Bambang Dahono Adji. He is director of biodiversity conservation at Indonesia's Ministry of Environment and Forestry. He said Harapan would be "officially handed over" to Indonesian authorities Nov. 5. It will happen at Way Kambas National Park. That is where the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary is located.
The 1,800-pound rhino has had medical checks. He was trained to walk into his crate before starting the more than 10,000-mile trip. His trip ended a captive-breeding program for the species at the Cincinnati Zoo. The program had produced three rhinos.
A veteran Cincinnati Zoo animal keeper went with Harapan on his trip. The zookeeper was at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary when Harapan's older brother became a father there. That was in 2012.
Conservationists hope Harapan can mate with one or more of the three females at Way Kambas. That is where Ratu is now pregnant with her second calf. She is expected to give birth in May. Ratu is a 12-year-old female rhino that was born in the wild.
Ratu's first calf was a male. His name is Andatu. He was born in 2012. The calf was the first Sumatran rhino born in an Asian breeding facility in more than 140 years. The father of both calves is Harapan's brother. His name is Andalas. He was returned to Indonesia in 2007.
Harapan and Andalas' sister was Suci. She died from illness last year at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her death left Harapan as the last Sumatran rhino in the Western Hemisphere.
Indonesia has said it does not want to rely on other countries in conservation efforts by sending rhinos to be bred abroad. But, it says it welcomes any technological or scientific assistance for the Sumatran rhino-breeding program.
The Sumatran rhino is seriously threatened. The species' numbers in Indonesia over the past 50 years have dropped. That is due to widespread poaching for horns. The horns are used in traditional Chinese medicines. Destruction of forests have also hurt the rhinos. The destruction is caused by farmers It is also caused by illegal loggers and palm oil plantation companies.
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