Located in the heart of Way Kambas National Park on the island of Sumatra, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) is home to the only reproductively viable captive Sumatran rhinos in the world. The facility’s seven resident rhinos – males Andalas, Harapan and Andatu, and females Rosa, Bina, Ratu and Delilah, reside in large, natural rainforest habitats and receive state-of-the-art veterinary care and nutrition. This tiny population is the core of an intensively managed breeding and research program that is intended to promote the species’ population growth while also generating a genetically diverse “founder” group that could be used as a source for animals to repopulate the National Parks. The goal of this program is to increase our knowledge about the ecology and behavior of the species while also supporting the population in the wild.
Bina is one of the older female residents of the SRS, her age estimated between 38 or 39-years-old. She was named for the area where she was rescued, the BINA SAMAKTA in Northern Bengkulu (Bengkulu Utara). Her home range was originally covered by dense tropical forest, but is now heavily populated with villages and many large palm oil plantations, leaving no habitat for Bina or other rhinos. This area is adjacent to the Kerinci-Seblat National Park where the rhinos have been declared locally extinct.
The SRS has a dedicated team who watch the rhinos around the clock, but no one knows Bina like Dede. When Bina arrived at the SRS on January 8, 1998, a young keeper, Dede Nurdin, came with her. At the time, Dede was one of the few people who had experience taking care of Sumatran rhinos, so he became an integral part of the SRS and training keepers in the specialized care of this unique animal. He helped Bina settle into her new home and still cares for her to this day. Dede and the other keepers spend their days checking on the rhinos, training them for voluntary exams, finding and cutting browse to supplement their diets, and keeping records of any changes in health or behavior.
Bina has now been a resident of the SRS for more than 21 years and Dede has been at her side the entire time- they have a very special relationship built on mutual trust due to their many years together. Bina has not yet conceived a calf, but continues to thrive and is healthy. She spends her days wandering around her 10-hectare forested enclosure eating a variety of plants in between taking long afternoon naps in mud wallows.
Dede has spent decades of his life being Bina’s keeper. During that time he has gotten married, had children and now has grandchildren.
“Time flies by very fast,” he says, “there have been many changes but the only thing that has stayed the same in my life is Bina……..Bina is my rhino.”
Dede’s dedication to Sumatran rhinos, and to Bina especially, is simply inspiring.
Learn more about the SRS and the other rhinos there at: https://rhinos.org/our-work/where-we-work/sumatran-rhino-sanctuary/