Sumatran Rhino

Meet the Sumatran Rhino –
The World’s Smallest Rhino

It may be hard to believe that the Sumatran Rhino, standing just under five feet tall and weighing nearly a ton, is considered small! And while it’s true that its African rhino relatives are larger, the Sumatran Rhino’s unique lineage sets it apart: it’s the closest living relative to the Woolly Rhinos that roamed the Earth during the Ice Age more than 2.6 million years ago.

It’s also the only Asian rhino with two horns and is known to be very vocal, making a range of singing and chatting sounds.

But the population of the world’s smallest rhino has become frighteningly small, as well, and, as a result, they’re currently listed as Critically Endangered. Today, there are fewer than 80 individual Sumatran Rhinos left on Earth, as the result of poaching and habitat destruction. Plus, the resulting small populations have slowly decreased in size as death rates outpace birth rates. At the same time, these populations have fragmented, with clusters of rhinos now living in remote, isolated areas in Sumatra and Borneo. Because of this fragmentation, this Critically Endangered species is rarely seen in the wild, and breeding has virtually ceased. 

Rather than simply sound the extinction alarm, GWC has joined forces with global and local partners to take action toward a positive solution: relocating select rhinos to allow breeding. Moving Sumatran Rhinos is not easy work, but we’re rising to the challenge, driven by our collective belief that this incredible species can flourish once again.

(Top Photo: Sumatran Rhino, Barney Long/GWC)

Wild Facts
Closest living relative of the Woolly Rhino from the Ice Age.
The smallest and hairiest of all rhino species.
Known as “the singing rhino” for its range of vocal sounds.

Restoring the Sumatran Rhino

Sumatran Rhinos have two horns

Sumatran Rhino, photo by: Barney Long

With fewer than 80 Sumatran Rhinos left in the world, restoring their population is of utmost importance. That’s why Global Wildlife is part of the Sumatran Rhino Survival Alliance, a groundbreaking strategic partnership that focuses on conservation breeding. The group is led by the International Rhino Foundation, International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC), National Geographic Society, GWC and WWF.

The Alliance has launched a new project called Sumatran Rhino Rescue. The effort, established to support the government of Indonesia’s national Sumatran Rhino breeding program, brings together previously disparate voices and organizations around a single plan to save the species. This ambitious effort includes:

  • Establishment of two new Sumatran Rhino sanctuaries in Indonesia, while also expanding the existing facility in Way Kambas National Park.
  • Search and rescue of as many isolated rhinos as possible, relocating them to managed breeding facilities.
  • Incorporation of the rhinos into a single conservation breeding program with high-quality veterinary and husbandry care.

In addition to these exciting efforts, GWC is supporting Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) through our partners International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and Yayasan Badak Indonesia (YABI). The RPUs patrol and monitor the rhino population in Way Kambas National Park.

GWC, in partnership with Wildlife Protection Solutions, is working with local partners YABI and ALeRT in Way Kambas National Park, and Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) in Gunung Leuser National Park to enhance current protection mechanisms through the design of a real-time protection system. Using a combination of connected camera-traps and handheld devices for patrol teams, data will be sent in near real-time to headquarters where park staff can launch and coordinate rapid responses to incursions.

Solutions for the Sumatran Rhino

Your support will help provide these essential initiatives and tools to restore the Sumatran Rhino population.

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Field Surveys

Surveys to locate rhinos and determine their movements to inform capture operations.

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Population Monitoring

Implementation of an individual rhino monitoring system using extensive camera-trapping and near real-time data transfer in Way Kambas and Gunung Leuser National Parks.

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Poaching Prevention

Maintenance and enhancement of anti-poaching operations and poaching prevention solutions including the establishment of near real-time data transfer to enable rapid response operations.

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Rhino Capture

Capture operations conducted by well-trained and dedicated teams. All possible steps will be taken to minimize stress and ensure the health of the animals throughout this process.

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Expanding Capacity

Create two new Sumatran Rhino sanctuaries, applying conservation successes from Way Kambas; one in Kelian in Indonesian Borneo, and one in Aceh in northern Sumatra, with well-trained staff.

Get The Details

Species Red List StatusPopulationLocation StatusPartners

Less than 80

Multiple sub-populations across the islands of Sumatra and Borneo

Stay Wild. Stay Connected.