The rhinos found on Borneo are regarded as a subspecies of the Sumatran rhinoceros, which means they have different physical characteristics to rhinos found in Sumatra (Indonesia) and Peninsular Malaysia. The Sumatran rhinoceros is one of the world's most critically endangered species, with small numbers found only in Sumatra (Indonesia), Sabah (on the northern end of Borneo) and Peninsular Malaysia. On Borneo, there have been no confirmed reports of the species apart from those in Sabah for almost 20 years, leading experts to fear that rhinos may now be extinct on the rest of the island.
The main threats to the last rhinos in Sabah are poaching ?its horn and virtually all of its body parts are valuable on the black market ?and loss of its forested habitat due to conversion of the land to other uses. WWF is working with the Sabah Foundation and the Sabah Wildlife Department to establish a "Rhinoceros and Orang-utan Research Program Center" in the Heart of Borneo forest area to bolster the rhino monitoring and research work in that area. Supporters of WWF-Malaysia's rhino conservation work include Honda Malaysia and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sabah and the forests of the "Heart of Borneo" still hold huge tracts of continuous natural forests, which are some of the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth, with high numbers of unique animal and plant species. It is one of only two places in the world –Indonesia's Sumatra island is the other ?where orang-utans, elephants and rhinos still co-exist and where forests are currently large enough to maintain viable populations.