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Desperate attempts to save endangered species

Desperate attempts to save endangered species
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Suci, a nine-year-old Sumatran Rhino and a direct descendant of the woolly rhinos from the ice age, is part of an attempt to save her highly endangered species.

Harapan, Suci’s six-year-old brother, has been brought in from Los Angeles to the Cincinati Zoo for a breeding programme, that is essentially incest. Conservationists believe it is the only option left.

According to recent statistics, only 100 Sumatran rhinos remain in their native Southeast Asia — an estimated decline of around 90 percent since the 1980s.

Some biologists have concerns, saying breeding endangered animals in this way could do more harm than good and will result in offspring unable to survive in the wild.

In the meantime, Adelaide Zoo in Australia is celebrating its own recent births – part of a bid to save the country’s most endangered reptile.

It is working on a breeding programme to help boost numbers of the western swamp tortoise. It appears to be working with three successful hatchings already.

Bradie Durel, a reptile keeper at Perth Zoo, explained the plan: “Getting any of them back into the wild and increasing any of the numbers is vitally important when you’re dealing with a critically endangered animal. We’re kind of limited with the release sites that we’ve got at present. Most of them are reaching capacity. However the recovery programme is doing a lot of work looking for release sites.”

In Adelaide, the breeding season is just starting. Adult tortoises are weighed before being paired together in tanks. With 11 tortoises now in residence, the Adelaide project will join up with a larger breeding programme at Western Australia’s Perth Zoo.

After being released into enclosures, efforts in Perth have seen 600 tortoises hatch during the last 25 years and nearly a third of them have been released into the wild.

Staff at the zoo are hoping their successes will help stop the western swamp tortoise from disappearing forever.