U.S.A: attempt to save the Sumatran rhino at the zoo in Cincinnati
A species of rhinoceros is so close to extinction that experts will have to resort to an unusual tactic: pair a young animal with her older sister , in the hope that they play .
The Cincinnati Zoo managers are trying to Harapan , Sumatran rhinoceros 6 years old, Suci copulate with his 8 year old sister .
The desperate attempt comes after a recent conference in Singapore, where it was felt that perhaps there are more than 100 of the species of rhinoceros, dual horn and abundant hair, in Southeast Asia .
The population of this species has declined by 90 % in the last 30 years due to human development and poaching.
In general the existence of rhinos around the world is declining , and Sumatra , descendants of the beasts that roamed the planet in the Ice Age, are the most at risk .
The Cincinnati Zoo has been a pioneer in breeding rhinos and there came to light the first three rhino born in captivity in modern times. Their leaders brought the younger , Harapan , the Los Angeles Zoo and try to match it with Suci .
"Of course we need more young people to save , we have to produce the maximum amount possible as quickly as possible," said Terri Roth , director of the Center for Research of Endangered Species Zoo . "The population is sharply declining and she urges us to get pregnant ."
Critics of such programs argue wildlife breeding that do more harm than good and that animals are born there can not survive in the wild. Matching animals that are part of the same family increases the probability of suffering from genetic irregularities.
" We hate to do it, especially in the long term," Roth said , but added that the parents of the two kids had very different genetic sets , which favors the program. " When it comes to an endangered species , the most important in counting the animals to reproduce, and their genetic traits are passed into the background , and those are the young and hardy animals we have."
The parents of the three rhino born in Cincinnati have already died , but most breeds, Andalas , 11 , was taken to a sanctuary in Indonesia, where he had a son after copulating with a wild rhino.
The first coordinated effort to reproduce rhinos in captivity began in the 1980s , but about half of the females died without getting pregnant . Roth, who began working on the project in 1996 , said it took years to study the eating habits and routines of other animals , and it took decades to understand more other coupling routines . The rhinos tend to be loners , they do not like the company much less coupling.
" It's definitely difficult to reproduce because they are lonely people ," said Roth. " We can not just put them all in one place, but we have to put them together just when the female is in heat ."
The match between specimens that are relatives probably occurs in the wild , says Roth, but it's hard to know for sure because animals of this species are few. If the resulting breeding meets a specimen that is not relative, genetic diversity will recover, he added.
Harapan , which weighs about 750 kilos ( 1650 pounds ) , will be confined in a cell apart from her sister , which is a bit smaller . On a recent morning zoo here was lurking in a mud puddle and walked until he got into a water tank .
When the time comes to put them together , the zoo team will not be lowering the intensity of the lights and romantic music but placing a network of gates used to guide animals. If they fight or exhibit other problem behaviors , the separate distracting with bananas.
To prepare , Roth and other experts have measured the testosterone levels of Harapan and use ultrasound and other mechanisms to detect ovulation Suci .
" What we are doing is to let science guide us , we have relied on science," Roth said.
If pairing is successful , 16 months after the zoo is celebrating the birth of a fourth Sumatran rhino . Otherwise, continue the efforts .
Indonesia experts have been trying to attach to Andalas , the older brother , with two other females after achievement of last year. They have saved his semen , but has not reported any artificial insemination.
At the conference in Singapore , authorities in Indonesia and Malaysia pledged to work to preserve the continuity of the species. Experts say that created special patrols to protect rhinos have succeeded in thwarting the activity of poachers who kill them for their horns, which are sold for tens of thousands of dollars on the black market. People use them for medicinal purposes and some say they have aphrodisiac powers .
Although the Sumatran rhino is not a particularly famous or recognizable among ordinary people animal, the species helps to maintain healthy forests on the planet because of its role in the ecosystem : clears shrubs and bushes , carrying seeds and make trails creatures smaller . Moreover, they are not a threat to humans or crops.
" There is no conflict between humans and rhinos ," said Roth. " Can we see our environment and live with this peaceful , peaceful ancient species? If we dismiss the Sumatran rhino , who we going to preserve ? " .
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