living fossil


Cerositis following fungicide exposure in a Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia

Inflammation of the horn (cerositis) has never been observed in a rhinoceros before. In the forests of Indonesia, an endangered Sumatran rhinoceros suffered from an unusual problem with his horn.

Dedi Candra 1
, Andriansyah 1, Marcellus Adi 1 and Robin W. Radcliffe 2


Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Yayasan Badak Indonesia, Way Kambas National Park, Lampung Indonesia

Rhino Conservation Medicine Program, International Rhino Foundation*

*Current affiliation: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York USA

A thirty year-old male Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) named "Torgamba", housed at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park Lampung Indonesia, suffered acute inflammation of the feet and horns. Although pododermatitis is common in captive rhinoceros, this report details the first case of horn inflammation in any rhinoceros species – a condition we have named cerositis. The rhinoceros presented with weakness, lethargy, lameness in all four feet and disruption of daily behaviors such as urine spraying. Physical examination revealed a complete loss of body hair, sloughing of the skin on all four feet and around horn base, and exudation of a serous to mucopurulent fluid with subsequent separation at the coronary region of the foot and horn base. The rhinoceros continued to eat and drink normally. A diagnosis of pododermatitis, laminitis and cerositis was made. A number of factors were considered as possible etiologies; however, a subsequent regional survey, nutritional analysis and laboratory investigation identified fungicide residues as the presumed cause for the syndrome. Fungicide contaminants were identified in rhinoceros browse collected from a nearby banana plantation located outside Way Kambas National Park. With prompt diagnosis and intensive treatment including novel foot management procedures, the affected rhinoceros made a full recovery.

Keywords: cerositis, fungicide, laminitis, pododermatitis, Sumatran rhinoceros