Najaq, the recently rediscovered Sumatran rhino has died

The female Sumatran rhino, which was the first of her species to be spotted in Indonesian Borneo in 40 years, died due to an infection to her hind leg.

Her rediscovery had been welcomed with real enthusiasm by biologists, environmentalists and all those who have nature close to their heart. Before the capture of the female Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) named Najaq, no individual had been encountered for over 40 years in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.


The Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is the smallest of the 5 existing species of rhinoceros


The female rhino was captured by WWF thanks to a pit trap used to monitor wildlife. She was supposed to be brought to a protected area in Borneo, 150 kilometres away, in order to keep her safe and far from poaching. However, Najaq never reached the natural reserve and she thus won’t be able to maintain her beautiful yet endangered species: she has died due to a leg infection.


The sad news has been released by the International Rhino Foundation, which declared it will carry out an investigation to verify the causes of the death and to figure out if the infection has developed due to the capture. If this is what actually has happened, conservation strategies should be reconsidered, as their aim is preserving animal species, but way too often they turn out to be too “aggressive”.


Rinoceronte di Sumatra catturato dal Wwf
Najaq, the female Sumatran rhino captured by WWF in East Kalimantan © Ari Wiwobo, Wwf Indonesia


“It is our hope that the next rhino captured in Kalimantan will be sent to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary where it can be cared for in a permanent facility by experienced veterinarians and keepers,” the International Rhino Foundation wrote in a statement. “Most importantly, we hope that the next rhino captured will be part of the much-needed Sumatran rhino metapopulation management strategy, while concurrent surveys are conducted to accurately determine the population in Kalimantan and appropriate long-term plans made”.



According to WWF-Indonesia, the wound that caused Najaq’s death would have been caused by a poachers’ snare. Upon capture, she was given antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicine, and vitamins, under the care of a team of veterinarians from five organizations including the WWF. For a time it appeared Najaq might recover, as she was eating regularly, but then her infection worsened.


Rinoceronte di Sumatra con il cucciolo
The Sumatran rhino is one of the world’s rarest mammals. It is estiamated that nearly 100 individuals survive in the wild


Najaq’s death represents yet another bad news for the species, which has been already decimated by poaching and habitat loss caused by logging and mining. It is estimated that only less than 100 individual survive in the wild, making the Sumatran rhino one of the world’s rarest mammals.

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