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
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A U.S.-born male Sumatran rhino has arrived in his ancestral home of Indonesia. The rhino made the long journey from Cincinnati, Ohio. The animal is on a mission to mate, to help save his critically endangered species from extinction.
The 8-year-old rhino is Harapan. He was born at Cincinnati's zoo. He has spent nearly the past two years as the last Sumatran rhino in the Western Hemisphere.
He arrived at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport Nov. 1. The rhino traveled in a special travel crate aboard a Cathay Pacific jet. He continued his trip in a truck 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 underwent medical checks. And he was trained to walk into and voluntarily remain in his crate before beginning 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.
Harapan was accompanied on his trip by a veteran Cincinnati Zoo animal keeper who was at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary when Harapan's older brother became a father there in 2012.
Conservationists hope Harapan can mate with one or more of the three females at Way Kambas. That is where Ratu, a 12-year-old female rhino born in the wild, is now pregnant with her second calf and is expected to give birth in May.
Ratu's first calf was a male named Andatu. It was born in 2012. It 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 Andalas. He was returned to Indonesia in 2007.
Harapan and Andalas' sister, Suci, died from illness last year at the Cincinnati Zoo, leaving Harapan as the last Sumatran rhino in the Western Hemisphere.
Indonesia has said it does not want to be dependent on other countries in conservation efforts by sending rhinos to be bred abroad. However, it says it welcomes any technological or scientific assistance for the Sumatran rhino-breeding program.
The Sumatran rhino is seriously threatened, with the species' numbers in Indonesia over the past 50 years decimated by rampant poaching for horns used in traditional Chinese medicines and destruction of forests by farmers, illegal loggers and palm oil plantation companies.
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