Sumatran rhino dangerously close to extinction, conservation charity warns

There are fewer than 100 left in the wild in Indonesia

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 22 September 2015 15:11
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Sumatran rhinos are hunted for their two horns and are losing their habitat
Sumatran rhinos are hunted for their two horns and are losing their habitat

The Sumatran rhino is dangerously close to extinction, a leading international conservation body has warned.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has warned that the rhino population in the wild is just under half of what it was the last time they counted it in 2008.

Last month scientists declared the rhino, which is the smallest of the three species in Asia, extinct in the wild in Malaysia.

Now fewer than 100 of the animals are left in the rainforests of Indonesia.

In October 2013, representatives from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal met for the first Asian Rhino Range States Meeting, where they agreed a recovery plan for the species.

Sumatran rhinos have been declared extinct in Malaysia

But the IUCN says the Indonesian government urgently needs to allocate funding for the plan - or the remaining rhino population is likely to be lost.

Simon Stuart, head of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s Asian rhino team, said the loss of the rhinos in Malaysia was “a major blow”.

He said: “With the ongoing poaching crisis, escalating population decline and destruction of suitable habitat, extinction of the Sumatran rhino in the near future is becoming increasingly likely.

“The Indonesian Government urgently needs to develop intensive protection zones with significantly enhanced security enforcement in all sites where Sumatran rhinos still occur.”

According to the charity, over the past 50 to 100 years, the Sumatran rhino has gradually become extinct in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Sumatran rhino is the only rhinoceros species in Asia with two horns, which makes it a target for poaching as the horns are used in Chinese medicine.

It is also suffering from a loss of habitat due to human settlements, logging and agriculture.

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