Sumatran rhino footprints found in Borneo



Posted on 31 March 2013  | 
Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), North Sumatra, Indonesia.
© Alain Compost / WWF-CanonEnlarge
Sendawar, Indonesia -- A team from WWF-Indonesia has found fresh footprints resembling those of a critically endangered Sumatran rhino in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) area of East Kalimantan, Indonesia, the first time in over two decades that traces of the elusive rhino have appeared in the area.

To confirm the presence of the rare animal, a second team comprised of WWF-Indonesia, the West Kutai Forestry Agency, Mulawarman University and local observers launched a follow-up survey that found more evidence of rhino footprints, active mud wallows, marks on tree trunks, and signs that the rhinoceros species had been feeding in the area.

The survey team also identified more than 20 plant species rhinos feed on in abundance in the area, including Dillenia supruticosa, Glochidion glomemerulatum and Nblia Japanica. The abundant food and the overall natural conditions of the area further support the findings.

“This is a very important finding to the world, and especially to Indonesia's conservation work, as this serves as a new record on the presence of Sumatran rhinos in East Kalimantan and especially in West Kutai,” said Bambang Noviyanto, the director for biodiversity conservation at the Forestry Ministry.

“Information surrounding the presence becomes important to draft strategies to protect the population, if it is found to be viable and breeding, and to educate [people living around] the habitat where [traces] of rhinos have been found,” continued Bambang.

Experts taking part in the survey stated that no visual sighting has been made to date, and also cautioned that it is still too early to confirm whether the signs were made by a group of rhinos or just one remaining individual.

Sumatran rhinos in Kalimantan were presumed extinct in early 1990s. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the rare animal as Critically Endangered, with a population of fewer than 275 individuals now living in the wild.

Commenting on the findings, WWF-Indonesia conservation director Nazir Foead said, “WWF-Indonesia together with all stakeholders will conduct a follow-up and more comprehensive survey to map rhinos' habitat preference and their population in West Kutai.”

“Based on the result of this survey, joint strategies and comprehensive and holistic action plans need to be immediately formulated.”

Nazir further stated that the conservation plan and efforts for Sumatran Rhinos needed to be long-term, and therefore sustainable funding was needed, partly to ensure that the work also benefit people living around the rhinos' habitat.

The head of the West Kutai district, Ismael Thomas SH. M.Si, said, “Rhinos, dolphins, clouded leopards and local buffalo are among God's creations that are getting rare, but apparently they're still alive in West Kutai”. Ismael added, “We must protect them, and the communities must live in harmony with nature.”

According to Ismael, the West Kutai administration is committed to protecting rhinos, and will immediately issue a law on Endangered Animal and Plant Protection.

In partnership with WWF Indonesia, the local government will form a team to study and investigate the presence of the animals, to decide on precise conservation policies and programs, as well as sources of funding to support efforts to protect rhinos..

For more information contact

Nazir Foead, Direktur Konservasi, WWF-Indonesia, Email: nfoead@wwf.or.id, Hp: +62 811 977604

Arif Data Kusuma, Project Leader, WWF-Indonesia Program Kutai Barat
Email: akusuma@wwf.or.id, Hp: +62 8115414375

Yuyun Kurniawan, Forest Management Coordinator, WWF Indonesia Program Kutai Barat, Email: ykurniawan@wwf.or.id, Hp.+62 81349244686

Note to Editors

High resolution photos can be downloaded at
https://www.dropbox.com/s/gxtwgq40q106sg3/Survey%20Badak%20Sumatera%20di%20Kalimantan%20%40WWF-Indonesia.rar with © WWF-Indonesia as the copyright.

About WWF-Indonesia
One of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. In Indonesia, WWF presents in 27 site locations in 17 provinces. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. More info, please visit www.wwf.or.id

About Heart of Borneo
A sustainable and conservation initiative designed to preserve and promote sustainable utilization of ones of the best forests left in Borneo, for the sake of present and future generations. The working area covers Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. In Indonesia, it covers West, Central and East Kalimantan. Further information at www.wwf.or.id/hob

About the West Kutai Administration
Geographically, the district of West Kutai sits at 1130 45’ 05” – 1160 31’ 19” E and between 10 31’ 35” N and 10 10’ 16” S. Administratively, it borders on the district of Malinau and state of Serawak (East Malaysia) in the north, on the district of Kutai Kartanegara in the east, the district of Pasir in the south and the Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan provinces in the west. West Kutai covers 31,628.7 square kilometers (less than 15% of the East Kalimantan province), and is divided into 21 subdistricts and 223 villages. To open the region, which is isolated due to its geographical morphology, the West Kutai administration has divided the region into three development zones, namely Hulu Riam, Highlands and Lowlands.
Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), North Sumatra, Indonesia.
© Alain Compost / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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