Rhinoceros conservation

Genetics and the last stand of the Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis

Benoît Goossensa1 c1 *, Milena Salgado-Lynna1 *, Jeffrine J. Rovie-Ryana2, Abdul H. Ahmada3, Junaidi Paynea4, Zainal Z. Zainuddina4, Senthilvel K. S. S. Nathana5 and Laurentius N. Ambua5

a1 Organisms and Environment Division, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

a2 Ex-Situ Conservation Division, Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

a3 Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

a4 Borneo Rhino Alliance, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

a5 Sabah Wildlife Department, Wisma Muis, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia


The Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis is on the brink of extinction. Although habitat loss and poaching were the reasons of the decline, today's reproductive isolation is the main threat to the survival of the species. Genetic studies have played an important role in identifying conservation priorities, including for rhinoceroses. However, for a species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, where time is of the essence in preventing extinction, to what extent should genetic and geographical distances be taken into account in deciding the most urgently needed conservation interventions? We propose that the populations of Sumatra and Borneo be considered as a single management unit.

(Received September 09 2012)

(Revised November 28 2012)

(Accepted January 08 2013)

(Online publication May 09 2013)


  • Dicerorhinus sumatrensis ;
  • extinction;
  • genetics;
  • genome resource banking;
  • Sumatran rhinoceros;
  • threatened


c1 (Corresponding author) E-mail goossensbr@cardiff.ac.uk


*  Also at: Danau Girang Field Centre, c/o Sabah Wildlife Department, Wisma Muis, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, and Sabah Wildlife Department, Wisma Muis, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Benoît Goossens and Milena Salgado-Lynn contributed equally to the work.