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| Last Updated:12/01/2021

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There still could be a couple of Sumatran rhinos in Myanmar’




A four-day-old Sumatran rhino calf with its mother. Photo: Wikimedia Commons



A veteran naturalist known for his expertise on the fauna of India’s Northeast has expressed hope that a couple of critically endangered Sumatran rhinos might still be present in India’s neighbourhood, in Myanmar. “I still believe that there could be a few (2-3) wanderers left in Myanmar,” Anwaruddin Choudhury told Down To Earth (DTE).




With Tam’s death, only one female, Iman, now survives within the boundaries of Malaysia. An estimated 80 Sumatran rhinos, the last of their kind, are thought to survive further south, in Indonesia, especially on the island of Sumatra and the Indonesian part of Borneo.



It is a sad ending to a species that was once found across Southeast Asia and west into Northeast India. In 1997, Choudhury had published a paper titled The status of the Sumatran rhinoceros in north-eastern India.



“In the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century, the Sumatran rhinoceros occurred in parts of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, northern Bengal, Bhutan, Comilla and the Chittagong Hill Tracts (the latter two areas are now in Bangladesh),” the paper notes.



It continues, “The last two records for the subcontinent were in 1967, when a Sumatran rhinoceros was killed near Cox's Bazar in the Chittagong area and a rhinoceros was seen by local people in the Punikhal area of Sonai Reserved Forest of Cachar district, southern Assam.”




He is, however, more hopeful about Myanmar. Sumatrans were known to be found in the Tamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary across the Chindwin river in Myanmar, very near to the Indian border. “Considering the large size of forested areas in Myanmar and the fact that very few experts have visited it, there could be a chance,” he said. He is also hopeful of the survival of the Indonesia Sumatrans. “They will definitely survive provided their habitat could be saved from the onslaught of timber cutters and oil palm plantations and no poaching takes place,” said Choudhury.