Skip to content

Sumatran rhinoceros

Dicerorhinus sumatrensis


The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest and most threatened of the five living rhinoceros species.

There are less than 100 Sumatran rhinos in the wild, scattered through 5 populations across Sumatra, and Indonesia. As of August 2016, the Sumatran rhino was declared locally extinct in Malaysia, with the only 3 remaining Malay individuals being in captivity. It is difficult to survey the population as they are mostly solitary animals, outside of courtship and raising offspring. The Sumatran rhino has been called the most vocal rhino species, 40 individuals in captivity were extensively observed, revealing the subtleties of their communications and vocalisations. As with other rhino species, they are under threat from poaching because of the erroneous perception that their keratinous horn holds medicinal properties. While they have a small horn compared the other rhino species, it is, wrongly, believed to be more potent because of this. They are also under threat due to habitat destruction, local hunting, with a very low, and fragmented population making natural recovery very difficult. They are sometimes called the ‘hairy rhino’ because of the long coarse hair that covers its body; it is actually the closest living relative of the extinct Woolly rhino (Coelodonta antiquitatis). The Sumatran rhinoceros is the only surviving member of the most primitive group of rhinos, the Dicerorhinini which emerged in the Miocene, 15-20 million years ago.

  • Order: Perissodactyla
  • Family: Rhinocerotidae
  • Population: <100
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 236-318cm
  • Weight: 600-950kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 12.27 (?)
ED Score: 13.25 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


Mostly in Indonesia (Sumatra) and Peninsular Malaysia. Reports of scattered populations elsewhere in south-east Asia.

Habitat and Ecology

This rhino is mainly found in hilly country near water. It inhabits both tropical rainforest and mountain moss forest. The species is thought to prefer lowland secondary forest, where the canopy is broken and the smaller shrubs and vines on which it feeds are more abundant. They are browsers, feeding on a wide variety of plant material, including fruit, leaves, bark, shrubs and vines. Most of the 50 kg of food the rhino consumes each day comes from saplings, which it breaks down in order to reach young leaves and shoots. They are particularly fond of wild mangos, bamboo and figs, and obtains essential minerals from salt-licks.

Find out more

Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Crops Hunting Logging

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at: