SOS Rhino Specials
Rhino Species
Rhino FAQ

Other News ::

Current Rhino News
Archived News
Press Releases

SOS Rhino : In the News : Expert: Don't give up hope on saving Sumatran rhino

Expert: Don't give up hope on saving Sumatran rhino

  1 May 2004

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah has been urged not to give up on saving its meagre remaining Sumatran rhinos based on spectacular comebacks from near extinction of the Indian and African white rhinos.

In 1900, only between 20 to 30 Indian rhinos were left in one area in India and 60 to 70 heads in Nepal, but now India has 2,000 heads in addition to Nepal's 500-600.

"Because of good protection, they have recovered," said Dr Nico Van Strien of the International Rhino Foundation on the first day of a two-day workshop on Sumatran Rhino Conservation jointly organised by the Sabah Wildlife Department, SOS Rhino and Carlota's Borneo.

"Africa's White Rhino had an even more spectacular recovery," he noted, Thursday.

"In 100 years, this species went from a handful of between 20-30 to 11,000 now because of much more aggressive management! It can be done," he stressed.

"I believe the other species can recover also if we have strong support from all levels of society - government and non-government, if there is adequate resources and if we have active management of the population," Dr Nico said.

The latest estimate of the Sumatran rhino population in Sabah has been put at 30 to 50, according to Deputy Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Laurentius Ambu.

Ambu, who represented his Director, said recent surveys suggest Sabah's Sumatran rhino breeding populations are found in only four different locations.

"With such a small and fragmented population coupled with a low breeding rate the viability of the species is of grave concern," Ambu said.

Invoking biological consensus, Dr Nico said the preservation of rhino species in the long run requires a recommended minimum of between 2,000 to 2,500 animals.

"On top of that, we should have at least a few populations which are 500 or more each, in size. Then only we can be sure that this species can survive."

Dr Nan Schaffer, founder and President of SOS Rhino, said she believed the recovery goals "can be attained" by harnessing the "interest, energy and commitment", in addition to building the capacity of countries with a focus on relationships among stakeholders.

"We need your support," she told a mixed audience of government officers, NGOs, representatives from the oil palm plantation industry and donor countries.

In his speech earlier, Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Karim Bujang, praised the joint conservation effort between the Wildlife Department and US-based SOS Rhino, to protect the "highly endangered" Sumatran rhino. The workshop also heard that in Peninsular Malaysia, the threat to the Sumatran rhino was from active international syndicates.

Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim of the Department of Wildlife and Taman Negara said in a vivid presentation that poachers from Cambodia and northern Thailand had been caught red handed and convicted, for rhino hunting in its forests.

Privacy Policy