A Sumatran striped rabbit, considered to be the rarest rabbit in the world, has been rescued by Indonesian wildlife officials after it was spotted by accident on Facebook.
The rabbit is only found in the forests in the Barisan Mountains in western Sumatra, Indonesia, and surrounding areas. It is threatened by habitat loss, leading the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to rate it as Vulnerable.
Since 2000, there has only been occasional sightings of the rabbits and a handful of trap images. The rabbit is thought to be the rarest species among all lagomorphs (rabbits, hares and pikas).
When one appeared on Facebook, the conservation community as well as officials from the Kerinci Seblat National Park in the Indonesian island of Sumatra were quick to track down and rescue the priceless animal.
According to CNA, the rabbit was in safe custody by the time officials met the would-be seller, a farmer who captured the animal opportunistically at the edge of the park next to a river that had just flooded violently. The rabbit sustained a slight injury to its flank – possibly from the flash flood.
“Very little is known about this animal, other than that it shows a marked preference for mossy hill and submontane forest. The only specimens from Sumatra date back to the Dutch colonial period – and are in the Netherlands, not Indonesia,” Deborah Martyr, a programme manager from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) said in a statement.
The farmer was more than happy to see the rabbit returned to the national park once he had understood its rarity. The rare rabbit has now been safely released back into the forest by the park rangers, at a site chosen on the basis of existing camera trap data.