Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 8th, 2007
The Sumatran Striped Rabbit (Nesolagus netscheri) has been captured on film, again.
The appearances of the Sumatran striped rabbit are so rare that when seen in the West, many believe someone is pulling an Easter bunny joke. But indeed the appearance of one of these in the wilds of Indonesia has been breaking news at week. Here are the details and some background.
In 1972, one confirmed sighting was made of what was said to be a Sumatran Striped Rabbit. The last specimen was actually collected in 1916, and was presumed extinct until photographed with the TrailMaster remotecam in 1997, as seen above. Note what appears to be a flying fox (bat) on the ground behind the rabbit.
A unknown, at the time, relative, the Annamite striped rabbit – above – (Nesolagus timminsi) was discovered when three freshly hunted specimens were found by Rob Timmins in a Laotian meat market in 1995 and described in 2000. In the rainforest of the Annam Highlands of Laos and Vietnam, this rabbit has distinct brown stripes running down its back and along its face, with short ears, and a redder hindquarters than its Sumatran cousin.
This current example of a striped rabbit being photographed was by remotecam trap in the rain forests of the Bukit Barisan National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia, according to researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society. This is only the third time the striped rabbit has ever been recorded via trailcams in Indonesia; the first dates from 1998 in Kerinci Seblat National Park, and the second was taken from Bukit Barisan National Park in 2000.
Before the recent incidents, the last confirmed sighting by scientists of a living animal, as mentioned above, was dated from 1972, and only 15 specimens exist in museums, all dating from before 1929. It is currently listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The rabbit is only known to exist from forests along the mountainous spine of Sumatra, and was thought to be the only representative of its genus. Using the date 1999, the Wildlife Conservation Society states that “researchers discovered another striped rabbit in the Annamite Mountains that straddle Lao PDR and Vietnam. Although both species seem similar in appearance, genetic samples from both revealed the Sumatran and Annamite striped rabbits are closely related but separate species from one another. According to the findings, both species have been diverging for approximately 8 million years.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society ended their press release (honestly), by noting: “Researchers also report that no colored eggs or baskets were found at the study site.”