Borneo Sumatran rhinoceros

Once widespread over Borneo, the Borneo Sumatran rhino is now possibly extinct throughout most of the island.
 / ©: / Andy Rouse / WWF
Clic to discover how WWF is working to protect rhinos in Africa and Asia
© / Andy Rouse / WWF
First-ever camera trap photo of a Sumatran rhinoceros in the wild on the island of Borneo. The camera trap had been set up by the WWF AREAS programme in the Bornean jungle of Sabah.
© WWF-Malaysia / Raymond Alfred

A few rhinos on a very big island

  • Common Names

    Borneo Sumatran rhinoceros; Rhinocéros de Sumatra(Fr); Rinoceronte de Sumatra (Sp)

  • Scientific Name

    Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni

  • Location

    Northern Borneo

  • Status

    Critically Endangered


  • Population

    Fewer than 25 - possibly extinct in the wild

Population & distribution

Previous population & distribution
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Borneo subpsecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros was widespread over the island of Borneo.

The subspecies suffered a serious decline in distribution and numbers due to prolonged illegal hunting.

By the early 1980s, loss of forest habitat through conversion to permanent agriculture – particularly palm oil plantations – had become another significant threat.

Current population & distribution
The Borneo Sumatran rhino is now possibly extinct in Sarawak (Malaysia) and Kalimantan (Indonesia), and possibly in the wild in Sabah (Malaysia) as well. A 2005 survey in the interior of Sabah found evidence of at least 13 rhinos, and scattered individuals are found in other parts of the state.

But the Malaysian authorities now admit that the last rhinos in Sabah might be the three in captivity.


Major habitat type
Dense highland and lowland tropical and sub-tropical forests

Biogeographic realm

Range States
Malaysia (Sabah)

Geographical Location
Northern Borneo

Ecological Region
Borneo Lowland and Montane Forests
Sabah (Borneo), Malaysia. Felled forest burnt to plant first crop of Palm oil on estate. Sabah, ... / ©: WWF / Sylvia Jane YORATH
Felled forest burnt to plant first crop of oil palm on estate. Sabah (Borneo), Malaysia.
© WWF / Sylvia Jane YORATH

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