Conservation of Indonesian Rhinoceros

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia > Java > Ujung Kulon National Park
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia > Sumatra


Rhinos and tigers are subject to trade because of their very profitable body parts. Thus, their number keeps dwindling owing to poaching and habitat destruction. Patrols have been employed with the support of GEF but further actions are required. The project will support the rhino patrol in Sumatra and West Java and investigate the trade of rhino and tiger products in Sumatra. The patrol will also record the species occurrence as well as the poachers' tracks and the data will be updated regularly. Trade investigations will collect data relating to trade activities, including the trade network from the hands of the poacher to the exporter. The information will be distributed to concerned government institutions and intense lobbying will be carried out so that immediate actions can be taken. Close collaboration with TRAFFIC and other divisions in the WWF family will occur to widen the trade scope to the regional level.


A number of conservation areas in Sumatra and Java are established to protect Javan rhino, Sumaran rhino and Sumatran tiger. However, poaching keeps occurring owing to its profitable business and relatively weak law enforcement. Information on the volume of this illegal trade and its operation are not sufficiently understood. Therefore, it is difficult to curb the trade activities.

In the last three years, A GEF funded project has trained and formed Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) for Sumatran rhino. The units, under the management of Yayasan Mitra Rhino (YMR), with the assistance of International Rhino Foundation (IRF, an administrative body of Asian Rhino Specialist Group) operate well in three national parks in Sumatra. Many rhino as well as tiger traps have been removed. Few poachers have been brought to court. Poaching incidence was also believed to have decreased. However, poaching still occurs since there is no intervention on the illegal trade issues, while the GEF funds will end in April 1998. Meanwhile government funds do not suffice to sustain the sufficient patrol activities.

Continued protection for rhinos and Sumatran tigers is the overall objective of the project. Therefore, the project aims to continue the support for the patrol and add more units to operate, particularly in Ujung Kulon National Park where patrol effect is still relatively weak. And to amplify the effects on the rhino and tiger protection, trade investigation will be integrated so that the trade operation will be ascertained and appropriate actions can be taken to curb its activities.

The patrol will be carried out by the same RPUs and the existing management will be maintained. Thus, WWF will commission out the patrol work to YMR/IRF. In addition, the patrol will be closely monitored by a WWF project officer from one national park to another. This is the lesson learnt from IRF's experiences.

In some areas, rhino and tiger poachers are regarded as "strong" figures. This perception needs to be changed so that local people will see poachers negatively. To this end, the community outreach will be carried out by the RPU teams. The awareness programme will be designed by another consultant.

Trade investigation and monitoring will also be contracted to local NGOs in Sumatra. The Species Monitoring Division in WWF/IP will participate in preparing the protocol and workplan of the trade monitoring activities. The investigation result will be distributed to the appropriate government institutions which duty is to arrest the illegal trade. High profile mass media coverage will be used to promote the anti-rhino and anti-tiger trade. In addition, close collaboration with TRAFFIC will be made to ensure the information exchange so that necessary measures to curb the animal trade in the regional level can be formulated. In addition, information on illegal trade from TRAFFIC will be cross checked directly on the spot.


1. Patrol of both Javan rhino and Sumatran rhino effectively carried out.
2. Relative density of the rhino population in Sumatran national parks identified.
3. Trade data of rhino and tiger products collected from the poacher to the exporter level, and disseminated to concerned government institutions.
4. Law enforcement in the trade issues enhanced.

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