Rare rhino dies shortly after discovery

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A rare Sumatran rhino, the first to be found in Indonesian Borneo in 40 years, has died.

The Sumatran rhinoceros is frequently poached for its horn, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says, and it's believed an infection after an earlier poaching attempt led to this one's death.

There are fewer than 100 of the animals and it was officially declared extinct in the wild in Malaysia last year, leaving Indonesia as its only remaining wild home.

When the rhino was spotted two weeks ago, it was the first live sighting of a Sumatran rhino in more than four decades.

Previously the only evidence the animals remained in the region was from footprints and dung, and sightings on camera traps.

It was something the conservation group celebrated, Director of the WWF Global Species Programme Carlos Drews says, and the Fund is saddened by the news of the death.

But it won't stop them from looking forward when it comes to conserving the species.

"We now know that there are more Sumatran rhinos in this region and we will work to protect the remaining individuals," he says.

"This was the first physical contact with the species in the area for over 40 years -- we will make great efforts to make sure that it is not the last."

WWF-Indonesia Conservation Director Arnold Sitompul says the death is a reminder of the "tremendous challenges" they face protecting the species in Borneo.

"While the cause of death is still being investigated, we are concerned by the indication that the rhino was suffering from a severe infection caused by snares from an earlier poaching attempt," he says.

"This demonstrates the threats faced by the Sumatran rhino, and underscores why we need to continue our efforts with the strong support of the government and other experts to save the remaining population of Sumatran rhinos in the area."