Authorities at Indonesia’s Kerinci Seblat National Park have rescued a Sumatran striped rabbit, an increasingly rare endangered species, after it was spotted in a Facebook post.
The non-profit conservation organization Fauna & Flora International and park officials worked together to locate and recover the rabbit.
“It is understood that the rabbit was caught opportunistically by a local farmer who found it on the edge of the national park next to a river that had just been violently flooded,” he added. FFI said in a sentence. “He had a minor injury to his flank, possibly sustained during (a) flash flood, but now park rangers have released him safely into the forest, at a site chosen based on existing camera trap data.” .
Despite rabbits’ reputation for breeding, this species is widely considered the rarest in the world. Scientists’ understanding is largely based on a handful of camera trap images and a dozen specimens in Dutch museums that were collected during the colonial period nearly a century ago.
“Very little is known about this animal other than that it shows a strong preference for mossy hills and sub-montane forests,” explains Deborah Martyr of FFI, who works with park officials. “Once the farmer who caught this rabbit understood its rarity, he was happy to see it return to the national park.”
While the rare rabbit’s habitat is threatened by potential development, a more imminent danger may well be appreciated by collectors. In 2018, wildlife biologists from the University of Sriwijaya in Indonesia infiltrated a private WhatsApp group used by wildlife traders. Two Sumatran striped rabbits were featured in the group, including a youngster believed to be the youngest individual ever seen.
Both rabbits eventually died and the vendor handed them over to be included in a museum in Indonesia. The incident is detailed in a short note in Mammalia magazine.
Before the recently rescued rabbit was returned to its habitat in the national park, scientists managed to collect some biological samples and other data to better understand the species scarcity.