Indonesia to Transfer Rhino Sperm to Malaysia Soon?

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Indonesia  to Transfer Rhino Sperm  to Malaysia Soon?

Indonesia has signaled it may finally send a sample of Sumatran rhino semen to a breeding program in Malaysia, amid a growing urgency to keep the species alive.

Conservationists in Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, where only two Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) remain, have since 2015 sought a frozen sample of sperm taken from a rhino in Indonesia’s own captive-breeding program in Sumatra to kick-start an artificial insemination attempt — but to no avail, as the Indonesian government repeatedly ignored its request.

Now, though, a senior official says the sperm being stored at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) may be sent to Malaysia sometime this year.

“We have discussed all of the aspects of the request, and submitted our analysis to the [environment] minister,” Wiratno, the head of conservation at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, told reporters in Jakarta last week.

A baby Sumatran rhino display's the species' characteristic shaggy fur |
A baby Sumatran rhino display's the species' characteristic shaggy fur |


“It will be a valuable lesson for both countries, as we are also dealing with rhinos which are losing their habitats,” he added.

If approved, the plan would be to combine the sperm from Andalas, a captive-bred rhino at the SRS, with viable eggs from Iman, the last remaining female Sumatran rhino in Malaysia, to produce an embryo that could then be implanted into one of the females back at the Indonesian sanctuary.

The fertilization would preferably happen in Malaysia because frozen semen travels better than eggs. Malaysia has agreed to let Indonesia keep any resultant offspring.

If everything goes as planned, the program would boost the genetic diversity of the species, given that Iman comes from a population on Borneo that has been disconnected from the populations on Sumatra for thousands of years.

Sumatran Rhino |
Sumatran Rhino |


John Payne, the head of the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), which is deeply involved in the plan on the Malaysian side, welcomed Wiratno’s statement.

“I cannot speak on behalf of the government of Malaysia, but I am sure that this is the news that we have all been waiting for,” he said. “It is heartening that the director general of conservation has expressed his commitment to seeing through the necessary procedures to expedite approval to release frozen semen of Sumatran rhino to Malaysia.”

He said 2018 was the “make-or-break year” for collaborative efforts between Indonesia and Malaysia to conserve the species, which began in 1985.

“We need to recognize that speed is of the essence,” Payne said. “Whether or not Indonesia decides to work with Malaysia, the species is very close to extinction. The need to immediately boost Sumatran rhino births far outweighs the need to prevent rhino deaths.”

There is an increased urgency to step up the captive-breeding program for the critically endangered species, compelled by the death in June last year of Puntung, Malaysia’s only other female Sumatran rhino at the time; and, in December, a serious deterioration in the health of Iman. Iman has since made a slow recovery, with Payne and his team hoping she can once again produce fertile eggs for fertilization attempts.

Experts believe that no more than 100 Sumatran rhinos, and perhaps as few as 30, are left in the wild, scattered in tiny populations across Sumatra, Borneo and perhaps peninsular Malaysia. With such a small population to draw from, the risk of genetic defects being passed on through captive breeding are high — which makes the need for the Indonesia-Malaysia collaboration all the more important.

There could also be a diplomatic payoff for the two governments, who have often been at loggerheads on issues such as cultural appropriation and territorial claims.

“The relationship between the two countries will also improve because wildlife issues transcend national borders, and this is an important global need that’s based on science,” Wiratno said.


The article was published on titled "Indonesia hints rhino sperm transfer to Malaysia may finally happen this year" on Jan 24, 2018, written by Basten Gokon


Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
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