Bornean Rhinoceros – It Was Very Good

Bornean Rhinoceros
Bornean Rhinoceros, Tabin-Engelbert

Bornean Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni)

 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

The Bornean Rhinoceros, also known as the Eastern Sumatran rhinoceros or Eastern hairy rhinoceros, was a subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros. The Bornean rhino was endemic to the island of Borneo but their range was reduced severely until the entire known population was restricted to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Their habitat was the hot, humid closed canopy rainforests of the island.

The Bornean rhino was the smallest extant rhino. The weight of an adult individual ranged from 1300 to 2000 pounds, with a height of three to five feet and a body length of six to nine feet. The Bornean rhinoceros had the darkest skin of the Sumatran rhinos, and the fur of calves was much denser, but it became scarcer and darker as the animal matured. The head size was also relatively smaller. The rhinoceros had fringed ears and wrinkles around its eyes.

Bornean Rhinoceros
Tam, a captive Bornean Rhino, may be the last male of the species.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Bornean rhinoceros was common throughout its native range. The animal was driven to extinction in the wild through a combination of hunting, poaching for their horn, habitat loss, and by having a small, scattered population.

In the 1930s, overhunting by natives wiped out much of the rhino’s population. The native hunted the rhinos their horns and traded them to China. Beginning in the 1960s, large-scale logging for international consumption heavily degraded or completely cleared much of Borneo’s rainforest. In the 1990s, palm oil became a huge industry in Borneo, having an even larger effect on the Bornean rhinos.

The widespread habitat destruction and hunting of the Bornean rhinoceros led to the population being too fragmented to repopulate. Bornean rhinos are extremely elusive and solitary animals and the destruction of their habitat and the separation of breeding populations made it nearly impossible for the animals to find mates and reproduce. The International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the rhino declared extinct in 2015. Three of the rhinos live in captivity.

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