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SOS Rhino : In the News : Articles : The Rhinoceros of Mount Kinabalu
The Rhinoceros of Mount Kinabalu

The rhinoceros is never easily seen in its original haunts and many naturalists or hunters have been sorely put to the test. For instance, Theodore Hubback, writing in 1939 at a time when rhinos were more plentiful than today, said that 'of all the difficult and exasperating animals through dense jungle the rhinoceros easily takes first place. They invariably go through the thickest undergrowth they can find and deliberately leave a game path to go through, or under, or over, some fallen tree which appeals to their sense of humour, I suppose. They do this normally as recreation when going about their lawful occasions, but when once wise to the fact that they are being followed they excel themselves in ingenuity. Nothing is too difficult for them.' And a little further on in the story: 'They seem impervious to any physical feeling or discomfort. Their walking powers in bad country are phenomenal. I have often followed up a rhino which has laboriously climbed - I should say we have laboriously climbed - a high mountain merely to go down the other side.'

It is no surprise then to find rhino tracks in remote corners of high mountains. In 1961, the members of the Royal Society Expedition to North Borneo made an ascent of Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah diverting from the usual route. They saw the first traces of rhino in their third camp, at 8300 feet, just south of the Nalumud Valley. Here they saw tooth-marks on the bark of a tree, recognized as those of a rhino. Next in camp 4, on a ridge of 10,000 feet, they saw tracks which left them with no doubt that rhino found a mountain refuge even at such a great altitude.

There may still be rhino in the area, but if so, none have been seen for over thirty years. It is always good to keep a good eye open for any track that they may have left behind.

Dr Kees Rookmaaker
Scientific Advisor to SOS Rhino


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