Groundbreaking Effort to Save Sumatran Rhinos


In dense, steamy rainforests on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo, Earth’s few remaining Sumatran rhinos are struggling to exist. Barely hanging on in fragmented sub-populations, this rhino is so rare – fewer than 80 survive – that only a handful of people have ever seen one in the wild. The decline of the species was initially caused by habitat loss and poaching for their horns, threats that still persist today.

Despite ongoing protection, the species faces extinction. Sumatran rhinos have become isolated in tiny pockets, decreasing the probability of breeding-age animals encountering one another. There simply aren’t enough rhino babies being born.

The species is in crisis – fewer than 80 Sumatran are rhinos left in the world. Without intervention, the Sumatran rhino will go extinct. The greatest threat? Isolated animals, living in fragmented rainforest habitats, cannot get together to reproduce.

We know how to successfully breed rhinos. Two calves have been born at our Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Way Kambas National Park, using methods developed at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Sumatran Rhino Rescue will support Indonesia’s new national captive breeding program, building on the SRS expertise to expand the population of Sumatran rhinos before it’s too late.


With the Government of Indonesia, the International Rhino Foundation, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission, Global Wildlife Conservation, National Geographic Society, and WWF have launched Sumatran Rhino Rescue – an unprecedented strategic partnership to save the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros from extinction.

Over the next five years, IRF and our partners will work with supporters around the world to finance a nearly $30 million emergency action fund to save the Sumatran rhino.

The effort was established to support the Indonesian government’s national Sumatran rhino breeding program. With fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, the species is in a race against time. Without intervention, this species will go extinct in a matter of decades.





Rhino experts from around the world and Indonesian government officials agree that the only way to bring the the Sumatran rhino back from the brink is to relocate them to managed breeding facilities designed specifically for their care and propagation.

In anticipation of captures of rhinos from small, isolated populations, IRF is expanding our captive breeding facilities and program at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, which now holds seven animals. Our goal is to quickly and safely increase rhino numbers, creating a source population from which animals can be someday be reintroduced into the wild.

“We have more than 22 years of experience maintaining and breeding Sumatran rhinos in captive settings. Using techniques first perfected at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, and later at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park, we are confident that this project can help to turn around the dire situation facing Sumatran rhinos,” says Susie Ellis, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation.


While there is always risk, doing nothing is not an option. It is time to act—to be proactive and gather the remaining breeding individuals, produce calves, and reduce the threat of poaching.

It takes a lot to save a species: vision, a plan, persistence… and your support.
We need your help to achieve this vision.
If we don’t act now, the Sumatran rhino could be extinct in our lifetime.

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