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The Sungai Dusun Rhinoceros Conservation Centre

 

Update on the Rhinos: 12th November 2003

Shah, a favourite with visitors and staff at Sungei Dusun Rhino Sanctuary passed away after a short illness on 19th January 2002. He used to love his daily head scratches. Shah will be sorely missed.

This is a very sad time for Rhino conservationists all over the world . In the past 2 weeks, 3 of the captive sumatran rhinos have died bringing the total number of rhinos that have died in the past 2years to 5. Veterinarians at Universiti Putra Malaysia concluded that the animals died of Surra, a disease caused by protozoan trypanosomes of several species which infect the blood of the vertebrate host, causing fever, weakness, and lethargy which lead to weight loss and anemia .This results fatal poisoning of the host. According to a vet, the bacteria could have originated from contaminated food, water or from the surrounding area. If this situation is not put under red alert, there soon will not be any rhinos left at the sanctuary to carry on any more breeding research on these gentle animals. This is a very sad day for us at journeymalaysia as our logo of the sumatran rhino was inspired by our visit to the sanctuary and our face to face meeting for the first time with a rhino called Ara. Ara passed away at 11.30am on Sunday, 9th November 2003 from septicaemia. The spirit of Ara stil lives on and every article we write still reminds our people of the values of living with our environment, cherishing our culture and appreciating our habitat, then one day perhaps, there may be a difference in how we live our lives and how we contribute to our future.

Update on the Rhinos: 2nd December 2003

There aren't any more Rhinos at the Dusun Rhino Sanctuary. Peninsular Malaysia's efforts to breed Rhinos in captivity is no longer in operation due to the fact that all 7 Sumatran Rhinos have died within a span of 1year plus. Within 3 weeks, 5 of the 7 Rhinos succumbed to septicaemia(blood poisoning) and enteritis (inflammation of the intestine). How did we fail so miserably? There are calls from various NGO groups to forego captive breeding and instead monitor the Rhinos in-situ. This means that the Rhinos should be left in their forest, fending their own territory and really - they should be left alone. As little human intervention as possible. All great in the ideal world but what about the excessive poaching, forest depletion and the task of managing such large forested areas? Pressure is mounting on all sides and the natural environment is not safe. The danger off overcrowding in National Parks like Taman Negara is an issue that needs to be addressed. Poachers and hunters from within and from neighbouring countries are threatening the wildlife population to service the restaurants. What are we to do? Our wildlife population is being decimated by sheer greed and ignorance... and we sit and watch it go to the dumps. Any suggestions? Any opinion? Point of Views? Write us at pappy@journeymalaysia.com - let it all out!!

MY RHINO ADVENTURE

Quizzical looks followed me each time I announced my up-coming trip to the rhino sanctuary. "A rhino sanctuary? Here in Selangor???" Armed with my camera to show proof of its existence, my two companions and I set off in happy anticipation. Finding and locating the Sumatran Rhinoceros Conservation Center (SRCC) was a little confusing, but once there, the instruction given for future visit was "Just take the road towards Sungai Besar and voila!" The general rule is this - keep your eyes glued for any road signs that read "Sungai Besar". Pit stops were not really an option on our journey toward this relatively uninhabited northern tip of Selangor, so be prepared. Aside from some little stalls catering to lorry drivers serving up simple food like fried noodles and fried rice, there was little else. All the more eager and ready we were to meet the rhinos after what felt like a rather long arduous journey!

The Sumatran Rhinoceros Conservation Centre is home to seven Lesser Two Horned Sumatran rhinoceros - also known as badak kerbau or the hairy rhino. Established in 1991, this sanctuary is home to 2 male rhinos (Ara and Shah) and 5 females (the most lively of them, Seputih). The SRCC's main objective is to provide a refuge for displaced rhinoceros captured from threatened areas in Peninsular Malaysia. In fact, the SRCC possesses the world's largest single population of captive Sumatran rhinoceros. The Centre is situated within the 10, 400 wide Sungai Dusun Wildlife Reserve. Having been rescued and brought in from various parts of Selangor (where their names are derived from) - these creatures live in seven individually segmented sections of a circular like enclosure - thus allowing for privacy and solitude as required by this rhino species. The Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of the 5 rhino species in the world. Their hides are incredibly rough to the touch, and they have growing all over their bodies thick brush like hairs (thus their names hairy rhinos) that can grow to some length. They are in fact the hairiest of the three Asian species. With sparse, thick hairs growing all over its body, this creature has a somewhat endearingly comical look.

Known to be extremely shy, the rhinos at the RSCC however appear quite interactive and eager for contact. Seputih showed her eagerness for a chat by charging towards us; demanding attention. She then proceeded to spray generously on the sorry individual standing there admiring her(!) Rhino spray can reach as high as 1.5 metres and cover 4 metres long -I was witness to this. And yes, we were also privy to watching her discard her waste! Interestingly, rhino waste is only deposited in unused wallows. Despite their muddy and often grubby exterior, it was rather humorous to note that these creatures seem to abide by some general rules of hygiene! After that demonstration, she seemed happy enough to wallow in her muddy pool, making grunting, rhino-talk like noises. The ideal wallow would contain slushy, creamy mud mixture that can form a thick layer over the body of the rhino. Aside from giving it relief from the intensity of the sun's rays, the mud layer actually acts as a protection against the nasty bites and stings of huge flies and gnats that seem to have an obsessive habit of preying on these amazing, yet seemingly defenseless (to the flies) animals. With a tail not quite long enough to shoo these nasty flies away, and no available fingers to ease the itch left by these stings, we felt a little less victimized by the many, many mosquitoes that were attacking us there. Responding to our calls, Shah happily came close for pats and posed quite happily for the camera. Shah seemed the most sociable of all - happy to come close when spoken to, and happy to let us run our hands through his thick, textured hide. It was quite a thrill to be in such close proximity to such strong and exotic creatures. The 7 staff employed to care for the rhinos seem to have developed endearing relationships with their charges - standing there, swatting flies on their behalf. The seven rhinos here also have the benefit of two dedicated veterinarians to attend to their needs.

The Sumatran male rhinos are generally very territorial by nature. Thus the separate 10 acre roaming area is sufficient for only one male - Shah. Rhinos are generally scent driven animals and if a male enters an area already marked by another male, they tend to become agitated and experience a great deal of unease. Females however tend to roam a little freer within these spaces. Generally, the female rhinos here are allowed to roam when they are believed to be pregnant - to give them their privacy and to reduce any further stress from being in a confined space. The female has a 21 day cycle and can mate all year round, but for some reason, no successful births has been achieved at the SRCC. The male at the SRCC have their partners chosen for them and they can react aggressively if not paired with the right one. The guide informed us that Shah seems to have developed a fondness for Panjang, whilst Seputih seems to have captured Ara's fancy. Cross fingers, maybe with time, little versions of Shah/Panjang and Ara/Seputih will grace the warm and muddy pastures of the SRCC!

Sadly, the Sumatran rhino is the most endangered of all rhinoceros species. Its numbers have decreased by over 50 % over the past decade, mainly due to poaching. Sumatran rhinos are particularly vulnerable to poachers. Rarely altering their daily routines, poachers can easily trap these solitary creatures by observing their route - with almost full assurance that the same rhino will come ambling along the very next day. Killed for its tusk, and other various parts of its body, these poachers find market for the precious commodity by virtue of the belief of its medicinal properties for curing a range of diseases. This practice is especially popular with the Chinese, as they believe that parts of powerful beasts like the tiger and the rhino has aphrodisiac properties. This has not been scientifically proven. It seems that the more obscure, the more unattainable the animal body part, the more sought after it is. This demand by induced by some Chinese medical practitioners and consumers has tragically seen to the demise of many, many now protected and endangered species like the Sumatran rhinoceros. In Peninsular Malaysia, their estimated number is a paltry 43-52. Aside from poachers, habitat destruction has also been a major contributing factor for its rapid decline.

Sanctuaries and conservations like the SRCC should be commended for their care and commitment to ensure that these unique creatures find safety and longevity; but stands as an indictment of our society for its indiscriminate and almost blind greed for the destruction of life - nature and wildlife alike. The rhino community here at the SRCC was an excellent introduction to these amazing creatures. Rather than the usual passive lounge lizard absorbing all experiences from the Discovery channel, my physical contact (i.e. my urine spotted pants as a result of Seputih's generous and copious contribution!) with these amusing animals gave me a deeper appreciation of the importance of such conservation efforts. It was also a sobering reminder of how fragile the existence of so many, many other creatures in the hands of human civilization. The SRCC has a role to play in not only providing a haven for these precious creatures, but to increase the awareness of the general public, particularly inculcating the importance of caring for the environment. These sanctuaries are especially important for school children. Their inquisitive minds and willingness to participate, can and will one day help in preserving the beauty and wonders of Mother Earth. An educational and interpretive center is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the near future. I left SRCC having encountered amazing creatures, with such unique and distinctive personalities. The less foreign these animals are to us, the less indifferent our attitude would be towards their protection and conservation - vital lessons I carry away with me from this short but very enjoyable and amusing trip...

Dated: 15th August 2000

Article contributed by Cynthia Lim

 

Accommodation and Packages to Sungai Dusun

Best to make a day trip to the centre from Kuala Lumpur. But, really... there's no longer a reason for going

 

Malaysia Rainforests, Sanctuaries and Parks

Peninsula Malaysia - Rainforests, Sanctuaries and Parks

Perak

| Bota Kanan River Terrapin Wildlife Conservation Centre | Royal Belum State Park | Sungkai Sambar Deer and Pheasant Wildlife Reserve | Temenggor Forest Reserve |

Johor

| Endau-Rompin National Park |

Pahang

| Taman Negara - Kuala Tahan | Jenderak Seladang Sanctuary | Kenong Rimba Reserve | Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre | Taman Negara - Merapoh | Tasik Chini Trek |

Selangor

| Kuala Selangor Fireflies | Kuala Selangor Nature Park | Sungai Dusun Rhino Sanctuary |

Kedah

| Langkawi Mangrove Swamps | The Datai, Langkawi | Ulu Muda Reserve |

Negri Sembilan

| Ulu Bendol Reserve | Berembun Forest Reserve | Gua Batu Maloi Forest Reserve |

Sabah and Sarawak - Borneo Rainforest, Sanctuaries and Parks

Sarawak

| Semengoh Wildlife/Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre | Bako National Park | Niah National Park | Kayakking in Kuching | Kayakking with Dolphins | Borneo Highlands Kayaking and Semengoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre Adventure Trip | Mulu National Park | Tenyok Rimba |

Sabah

| Tabin Wildlife Reserve | Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre | Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Sukau | Gomantong Cave |

 

Short Adventure & Nature Trips

Peninsular Malaysia

Water Activities

Perak

| White Water Rafting at Gopeng and Caving at Gua Tempurung |

Selangor

| White Water Rafting at Sungai Selangor | Abseiling and Tubing at Sungai Selangor |

Camping Trips

Pahang

| Taman Negara Inner Jungle Trip (Trekking) | Kenong Rimba Camping |

Johor

| Endau National Park Camping |

Perak

| Trans Gopeng - Cameron Highlands Camping & Trekking | Ulu Geroh Rafflesia Trek & Rafting Trip |

Trekking Trips

Kedah

| Jungle Trekking in Langkawi's Treasured Rainforest | Trekking For Families with Kids in Langkawi |

Nature & Countryside Trips

Selangor

| Kuala Selangor Fireflies | Kuala Gandah Elephant Centre |

Birdwatching Trips

Kedah

| Birdwatching in Langkawi |

Nature Photography Trips

Kedah

| Escorted Nature & Wildlife Photography Trip in Langkawi |

River Kayakking Courses

Selangor

| River Kayakking Basic Course at Sungai Selangor |

Combination Trips

Nature/ Highland/ Island

| 7 Days 6 Nights Malaysia Nature & Island Trip | 9 Days 8 Nights Malaysia Highland, Nature & Island Trip |

Borneo ~ Sabah & Sarawak

Water Activities

Sabah

| White Water Rafting Day Trips |

Sarawak

| Kayakking in Kuching | River Cruise with Dolphins | Borneo Highlands Kayaking and Semengoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre Adventure Trip | Kuching Caving Adventure | The Kuching Tringgus Trail (Landrover Adventure) | The Bau Gold Mining History Trail |

Mountain Climbing

Sabah

| Mount Kinabalu Climb |

Sarawak

| Mulu Pinnacles Climb | Mount Trusmadi Climb |

Birdwatching Trips

Sabah

| Birding in Sabah,Borneo |

Nature & Countryside Trips

Sabah

| Garama Wetland Cruise |