Sumatran Rhino Discovered in Borneo Jungles

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 10th, 2006

New Rhino

The Sumatran rhinoceros (above) is a special animal. In many ways, it retains several characteristics that link it to the megafauna of the Pleistocene. The Sumatran rhino thus is a living fossil*, related to the wooly rhinoceros (directly below) of the Ice Ages. That the Sumatran variety are still around is remarkable.


From Malaysia, September 2006, comes important news that overlaps nicely with this being the same part of the world that our attention has been directed to regarding the Johor Bigfoot. The first Sumatran rhino has been verified by scientists in the Borneo jungles.

New Rhino

The Bernama news service account of September 6th and other dispatches through the Associated Press of September 8th and 9th detail the findings:

Environmentalists in Sabah are buzzing with excitement. Years of patience was finally rewarded when they got a see a Sumatran rhino in its natural habitat on video. The video clip of the male Sumatran rhino was captured last week by a local ranger hired by Save Our Sumatran Rhino (SOS Rhino), a non-government organisation (NGO), during a daytime routine patrol in a forest reserve in the state (area details withheld to prevent poaching).

“This sighting and rare photos and video documenting the Sumatran rhino in its natural habitat is indeed very exciting. We have been tracking these animals here in Sabah for almost ten years now, and although we have seen tracks and signs of these rhinos, this is the first actual sighting of the endangered animal,” said Dr M.S Thayapara, the Program Officer for SOS Rhino Borneo.

According to him, the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is the smallest of the five species of rhinos left in the world, and the only rhino species found in Malaysia and the most endangered of all five species.

Only about 50 Sumatran rhinos are left in Sabah.

According to the Associated Press:

Sabah is the last preserve of the Borneo Sumatran rhino, a subspecies of the Sumatran rhino, a bristly, snub-nosed, smaller version of the African variety. The subspecies has already become extinct in other parts of Borneo because of poaching. Borneo island is divided between Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak states, Indonesia’s Kalimantan province and the oil-rich sultanate of Borneo. Fewer than 300 rhinos of the second subspecies, the western Sumatran rhino, are believed to be living on Indonesia’s Sumatra island and mainland Malaysia. Hopes for the Borneo subspecies were boosted after Malaysian government wildlife officials and World Wildlife Fund experts found evidence of at least 13 of them in May last year. Rhino protection units have since launched patrols to deter poaching.

Thanks to Cryptomundo correspondent Matt Knapp for the tip to this developing story.


*living fossil

“The Sumatran rhino, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, is a very special animal. Probably fewer than four hundred existed the evening I met Emi, and the number has continued to drop. The Sumatran is also special because it is a living fossil. The genus to which it belongs originated at least thirty million years ago.” – E. O. Wilson, 2002.

Edward Osborne Wilson (b. June 10, 1929 in Birmingham, Alabama USA) is a distinguished biologist (entomology), researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity) and theorist (consilience, biophilia), a naturalist (conservationism), and a prominent man of letters. Wilson is known for his remarkably prolific career as a scientist, his advocacy for environmentalism, and his scientific humanist ideas concerned with religious, moral, and ethical matters. He is currently the Pellegrino Research Professor in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

25 Responses to “Sumatran Rhino Discovered in Borneo Jungles”

  1. Sky King responds:

    WOWEEE! This is truly fantastic news! CZ gets a BIG shot in the arm… ROLL ON, cryptozoologists!!!

  2. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Sky King – you stole all my words! 😀 Awesome news 🙂

  3. mystery_man responds:

    Let this be a lesson to all the naysayers who think all large mammals have been discovered.

  4. Sunny responds:

    My 7-year-old has dubbed this “KOOOOOOL!!!”

    I couldn’t say it better myself.

    (apparently an interest in cryptids is hereditary)

  5. twblack responds:

    I hope they survive for another 100,000 years.

  6. Xeno2814 responds:

    Excellent! Always good to see some credible support lended to CZ, especially after something like the Johor fiasco.

    Of course, the cynic in me is now wondering how long it’ll be before we decide we have to capture these amazing creatures, stick them in zoos, and make them mate in order to ‘preserve’ the species.

  7. UKCryptid responds:

    Good news, as already said, this shows that even larger animals can remain extremely elusive.

  8. Sky King responds:

    That’s a big 10-4, Xeno2814.

  9. Babelastrange responds:

    You mean they discovered an animal prior to finding bones other than fossils?

  10. madman responds:

    I wonder what else is wandering around in those jungles. The mainstream scientists are proven wrong once again.

  11. shovethenos responds:

    Wooly Rhinos Rule!

  12. UberKyle responds:

    … You guys all do realize this is a known animal, and not just recently discovered? Just rediscovered in this area, sort of like the Okapis were in another region of the Congo recently.

    There is a successful captive breeding program at the Cincinnati zoo, involving artificial insemenation. I think the San Diego zoo has also had a successful breeding in the past.

    Still a neat story, and I definitely enjoyed it – does lend a hand to the possibility of finding animals like blobsquatch soley off of following footprints. Too bad Borneo is the size of a pin head compared to the amount of area bigfoot has the ability to cover.

  13. traveler responds:

    hmmm let me see if i get this right,,,theyve been seeing signs and tracks of this animal for years, but never spotted one,,,,,and then they get it on video and its proof…..hmmmm where have i heard a similar story?…..hmmmmm…..the video is the proof?…. double standard anyone?

  14. crypto_randz responds:

    This is truly exciting news finally a living fossil discovery this is a very great achievement for cryptozoology and very important, it goes to show that there maybe more living fossils that are eluding man. Don’t forget the many reports from hunters in the siberian wilderness that they have heard roars coming from possibly wooly mammoths. I read that hunters are still hunting them. If they ever find one alive this would prove even more that living fossils exist.

  15. Maohk Kiaayo responds:

    That just goes to show that an animal can go without being seen for a long period of time.

  16. shumway10973 responds:

    That is awesome! Only one question, what is a hairy rhino doing in one of the hottest jungles on earth? Did one of its ancestors take a wrong turn at Albuquerque?

  17. MattBille responds:

    I’m not clear on how much of a “discovery” this really was as opposed to simply verifying the animal still existed in an already-known habitat.

  18. shovethenos responds:


    If you look at the photo the hair looks pretty wispy and thin – sort of like orangutans, who live in the same climate.

  19. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    Nice rediscovery. Very inspiring. But Shumway 10973 , I like your question. good one indeed. I wish I could answer it. Maybe someone can. Veeeery interesting 🙂

  20. English Boy responds:

    great looking rhino

  21. monswine responds:

    This animal isnt unknown. It was ”hidden” for a while but people knew it was there. This is just like finding wolves in Germany or in Yellowstone. They’ve dissapeared in other places and everyone hopes they still live in this one place, biologists find tracks, trampled leaves, droppings, and other signs of their survival there, and then one just happens to wander in front of the camera. Not a brand new species, not something thought lost to science for millions of years, just a confirmation of the continuing survival of a very rare species.

  22. Loren Coleman responds:

    True. Not said to be “unknown.” That’s why we can talk about it as a living fossil. Why I posted photos of it. But the re-discovery in this specific area is the news.

    And then the debate over its links to the wooly rhinos is interesting too.

  23. youcantryreachingme responds:

    This National Geographic Article shows the actual photo which was taken of the rhinoceros found in the Bornean wild.

    Reporter Victoria Gilman quotes M.S. Thayaparan (“field program officer for SOS Rhino in Borneo”) as saying “We have been tracking these animals here in [the Malaysian state of] Sabah for almost ten years now, and although we have seen tracks and signs of the rhino, this is the actual first sighting of a rhino in the wild

    … but the thing is – if you check out the photo, the animal looks as if one horn has been cut off.

    Does anyone else see this? Or is this standard anatomy for the species?

    Wikipedia reports that this species’ horn fetches about US$200 per gram…

  24. kittenz responds:

    I think that all Rhinos count as “living fossils” because they are remnants of the Pleistocene megafauna. As such they are probably all living on borrowed time.

    I sure hope that all of the species can be preserved as viable breeding populations. It would be a shame for humans to homogenize the world to such an extent that the only animals surviving are domestic animlas and commensals such as rats.

  25. Bob Michaels responds:

    Read a new book Wild Borneo ISBN 1-84537-376-2. Produced in association with WWF- Malaysia in support of the Heart of Borneo -Project. The Eastern race of the Sumatran Rhino in Borneo is Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni, it is confined to Borneo, that is the Hairy one. Check out the Pygmy Elephants.

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