JAKARTA (CNA) – A Sumatran striped rabbit, widely 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 vulnerable species is known only from a dozen specimens collected in the early 20th Century which are now sitting in a Dutch museum. Since then, there have only been occasional sightings in the wild and a handful of camera trap images.
The rabbit is thought to be the rarest species among all lagomorphs (rabbits, hares and pikas).
They are so rare that 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 the would-be seller and rescue the priceless animal.
The rabbit was held 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 had a slight injury to its flank – possibly sustained during the flash flood.
Deborah Martyr, a programme manager from Fauna and Flora International (FFI) who advises the park’s Tiger Protection and Conservation Units, said this unexpected opportunity to eyeball such an elusive species has an enormous scientific significance.