I am writing from Indonesia, where IRF’s Asian Rhino Program team is participating in joint strategic planning for Sumatran rhinos and tigers. Thanks to a generous grant from the Disney Conservation Fund, we can avoid duplicating efforts since both species overlap in rhino habitat.
Over the past two weeks, the government and citizens of Indonesia, along with IRF, Yayasan Badak Indonesia (YABI), World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society and many others, have come together to ensure that the nation’s remaining Sumatran rhinos and tigers — which live nowhere else on Earth — do not go extinct.
Most urgently, we need to ramp up protection of core populations by adding more Rhino Protection Units (RPUs); establishing and enforcing Intensive Protection Zones that exclude human activity; and improving management of national parks and small rhino populations, including consolidating smaller groups into larger ones or placing them at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary for managed breeding.
On Sumatra Island, as few as 77 Sumatran rhinos may remain. These individuals are isolated in three areas with between 16 and 30 animals. Even worse, in some of these areas the rhinos are divided into even smaller groups that may contain as few as 2 to 3 individuals. We don’t know if the small groups interact with one another.
The Sumatran rhino, Javan rhino and Sumatran tiger once roamed across Southeast Asia. The only other remaining countries that had Sumatran and Javan rhinos — Malaysia and Vietnam — recently declared the species extinct in the wild. Poachers killed off these species for their horns, bones and skins, and humans have converted their habitat to fields and plantations. Within Indonesia, the Javan and Balinese tiger subspecies have already gone extinct.
We must take immediate action or we could lose Sumatran rhinos and tigers. Unless poaching stops completely, these magnificent species will disappear during our lifetime.
You can help save rhinos and tigers by supporting the purchase of a motorcycle our RPUs need to respond to poaching threats quickly. Although foot patrols are key to successful anti-poaching efforts, sometimes these brave men also must mobilize to crime scenes quickly.
Help purchase a new motorcycle by buying a square on our new GivingGrid. If you can’t donate now, please share the grid with your friends to help us get the word out.
Thank you as ever for supporting and believing in our work. We are grateful.
Susie Ellis, PhD