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Will current conservation responses save the Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis?

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The Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis formerly ranged across South-east Asia. Hunting and habitat loss have made it one of the rarest large mammals and the species faces extinction despite decades of conservation efforts. The number of individuals remaining is unknown as a consequence of inadequate methods and lack of funds for the intensive field work required to estimate the population size of this rare and solitary species. However, all information indicates that numbers are low and declining. A few individuals persist in Borneo, and three tiny populations remain on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and show evidence of breeding. Rhino Protection Units are deployed at all known breeding sites but poaching and a presumed low breeding rate remain major threats. Protected areas have been created for the rhinoceros and other in situ conservation efforts have increased but the species has continued to go locally extinct across its range. Conventional captive breeding has also proven difficult; from a total of 45 Sumatran rhinoceros taken from the wild since 1984 there were no captive births until 2001. Since then only two pairs have been actively bred in captivity, resulting in four births, three by the same pair at the Cincinnati Zoo and one at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Sumatra, with the sex ratio skewed towards males. To avoid extinction it will be necessary to implement intensive management zones, manage the metapopulation as a single unit, and develop advanced reproductive techniques as a matter of urgency. Intensive census efforts are ongoing in Bukit Barisan Selatan but elsewhere similar efforts remain at the planning stage.
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Short Communication
Will current conservation responses save the
Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinoceros
Dicerorhinus sumatrensis?
RASMUS GREN HAVMØLLER,JUNAIDI PAYNE,WIDODO RAMONO,SUSIE ELLIS
K. YOGANAND,BARNEY LONG,ERIC DINERSTEIN,A.CHRISTY WILLIAMS
RUDI H. PUTRA,JAMAL GAWI ,BIBHAB KUMAR TALUKDAR and N EIL BURGESS
Abstract The Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinoceros
Dicerorhinus sumatrensis formerly ranged across South-
east Asia. Hunting and habitat loss have made it one of
the rarest large mammals and the species faces extinction
despite decades of conservation efforts. The number of in-
dividuals remaining is unknown as a consequence of inad-
equate methods and lack of funds for the intensive field
work required to estimate the population size of this rare
and solitary species. However, all information indicates
that numbers are low and declining. A few individuals per-
sist in Borneo, and three tiny populations remain on the
Indonesian island of Sumatra and show evidence of breed-
ing. Rhino Protection Units are deployed at all known
breeding sites but poaching and a presumed low breeding
rate remain major threats. Protected areas have been created
for the rhinoceros and other in situ conservation efforts
have increased but the species has continued to go locally
extinct across its range. Conventional captive breeding has
also proven difficult; from a total of  Sumatran rhinoceros
taken from the wild since  there were no captive births
until . Since then only two pairs have been actively bred
in captivity, resulting in four births, three by the same pair at
the Cincinnati Zoo and one at the Sumatran Rhino
Sanctuary in Sumatra, with the sex ratio skewed towards
males. To avoid extinction it will be necessary to implement
intensive management zones, manage the metapopulation
as a single unit, and develop advanced reproductive techni-
ques as a matter of urgency. Intensive census efforts are on-
going in Bukit Barisan Selatan but elsewhere similar efforts
remain at the planning stage.
Keywords Conservation planning, Critically Endangered,
extinction, advanced reproductive technology, intensive
management zones, metapopulation management,
Sumatran rhino, South-east Asia
The Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis is
categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN
Red List (van Strien et al., ). It has been extirpated
from .% of its former range, is threatened by poaching
for its horn and has proven difficult to breed in captivity
(Dinerstein, ). Poaching of rhinoceroses has soared in
recent years (Emslie, ) and was the primary cause of
extinction of the western black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis
longipes and wild northern white rhinoceros Ceratotherium
simum cottoni in Africa (Emslie, a,b), and the Javan rhi-
noceros Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus in mainland
South-east Asia (Brook et al., ). It has also been a causal
factor in the decline of the Sumatran rhinoceros, which has
also been affected by habitat loss and isolation (Ahmad
et al., ). Here we outline the population status of the
Sumatran rhinoceros, summarize the threats to its survival
and highlight the main components and progress of the
emergency plan developed during the April 
Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit in Singapore and later
agreed upon in the Bandar Lampung Declaration in
October .
Reliable population estimates for Sumatran rhinoceros
have always been difficult to obtain. After years of suspected
decline, the population was assessed in  to comprise
 individuals (Zafir et al., ). We provide an up-
dated estimate (Fig. ) but it should be noted that robust
RASMUS GREN HAVMØLLER Natural History Museum of Denmark, Centre for
Macroecology, Evolution & Climate, Copenhagen, Denmark
JUNAIDI PAYNE Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
WIDODO RAMONO Yayasan Badak Indonesia, Bogor, Java, Indonesia
SUSIE ELLIS International Rhino Foundation, Strasburg, Virginia, USA
K. YOGANAND WWFMalaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
BARNEY LONG and ERIC DINERSTEIN WWF, Washington, DC, USA
A. CHRISTY WILLIAMS WWFInternational, Gland, Switzerland
RUDI H. PUTRA* Leuser Conservation Forum, Banda Aceh, Aceh, Indonesia
JAMAL GAWI Leuser International Foundation, Banda Aceh, Aceh, Indonesia
BIBHAB KUMAR TALUKDARIUCN Species Survival Commission Asian Rhino
Specialist Group, Guwahati, Assam, India
NEIL BURGESSUnited Nations Environment Programme World Conservation
Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK
*Also at: Tropical Biodiversity Conservation, Bogor Agricultural University,
Bogor, Indonesia
Also at: International Rhino Foundation, Strasburg, Virginia, USA
Also at: Natural History Museum of Denmark, Centre for Macroecology,
Evolution & Climate, Copenhagen, Denmark
Received January . Revision requested  February .
Accepted  March .
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population data are lacking in most areas and these numbers
represent best estimates.
In Indonesia the population in Way Kambas National
Park was estimated to be c.  individuals in 
(Talukdar et al., ), indicating a strong recovery after
being declared extinct in the Park in  but rediscovered
in the s (Reilly et al., ). Immediately after the
 El Niño drought a study using camera-trapping
data (P. Wells, unpubl. data) estimated there were  in-
dividuals remaining in the Park, a decline of % of the
population estimated to have been present in . If these
estimates are accurate, the implication is that the population
may have doubled between  and .
In Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park a study conducted
during  estimated there were  ±.rhinoceroses
in the Park (Pusparini & Wibisono, )butthemethods
were not optimized for surveys of Sumatran rhinoceros.
Based on patrol data, the distribution of rhinoceros signs had
decreased by % during  (Talukdar et al., ).
To date only c. %ofthe, km
Leuser Ecosystem has
been surveyed for Sumatran rhinoceros, and a minimum of 
individuals were confirmed in a  km
area in  (Leuser
International Foundation, ). The species has also been
recorded in other parts of the Leuser Ecosystem, including ob-
servation of a mother and calf in  (Leuser Ecosystem
Management Authority, unpubl. data). Camera-trap footage
of a Sumatran rhinoceros was obtained from East Kalimantan,
Indonesian Borneo (WWFIndonesia, ), but the evidence
suggests the population consists of very few individuals.
The most recent record of a Sumatran rhinoceros in
Peninsular Malaysia was in  (Magintan et al., )
and there is no evidence to support previous population
FIG. 1 Historical and present distribution of
the Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus
sumatrensis in South-east Asia. The
historical distribution is derived from range
maps in Foose & van Strien (), and the
current distribution from IUCN ().
2 R. G. Havmøller et al.
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estimates of  individuals (Zafir et al., ; Talukdar
et al., ; WWFMalaysia, ). Tabin Wildlife Reserve
in Sabah, Malaysia, was believed to contain as many as 
rhinoceroses in the s but records of fresh footprints de-
clined thereafter. Since  there have been no definite
signs of the presence of wild rhinoceroses in the Reserve
other than those of a female that was captured in .
This was despite an effort by Borneo Rhino Alliance of
, trap-days at  trap stations covering . km
in
a.×.km
grid during July July , overlapping
the entire area where footprints had been recorded during
.
In Danum Valley WWFMalaysia conducted camera-trap
surveys within a ×km grid from October .ByMarch
, after surveying  grids over , trap-days, only one
rhinoceros had been photographed, which was subsequently
caught in March .Thisispresumedtohavebeenthelast
individual in Danum Valley and the Sumatran rhinoceros
may now be extinct in Malaysia, echoing the concern raised
by Rabinowitz (). As of June  no further signs of the
species have been found in Sabah, and it is safe to consider the
species extinct in the wild in Malaysia.
Currently the two main threats to the Sumatran rhinoceros
are poaching and low densities (leading to a likely negative
population growth rate). With the high demand for rhi-
noceros horns in black markets in Asia, poaching remains a
significant threat. The last confirmed record of poaching in
the Malaysian state of Sabah was of a young adult female
with severe reproductive tract pathology, near the border
with East Kalimantan, in March  (Sen Nathan, pers.
comm.; Talukdar et al., ). In Indonesia the Sumatran rhi-
noceros was extirpated by poaching in Kerinci Seblat National
Park by  (Zafir et al., ); in Way Kambas National Park
the last known rhinoceros poaching event was in 
(Talukdar et al., ). In Bukit Barisan Selatan National
Park three individuals were poached during  but
there have been no recorded poaching events since then
(Talukdar et al., ; Arief Rubianto, pers. comm.).
In Gunung Leuser National Park poaching was almost
eliminated during the -year study of van Strien in the
early s, however by the late s poaching was rife
and as few as  individuals were thought to remain in 
(Griffiths, ). No direct evidence of rhinoceros poaching
has been detected recently, although signs of poaching of
other species are found regularly throughout the area.
Female Sumatran rhinoceros with severe reproductive
pathology are well documented in Malaysia, with .%
of captured females being affected, including the two cur-
rently held in captivity in Sabah. This condition results
from a lack of pregnancy and eventually renders the female
infertile. The frequency of the problem provides direct evi-
dence that females rarely mate and become pregnant
(Schaffer et al., ). This phenomenon could also become
a problem in Indonesia when populations decline such that
breeding events become rare. These problems have implica-
tions for natural breeding efforts in captivity and in situ, in-
cluding the effectiveness of efforts within the proposed
intensive management zones. We recommend that all fe-
males in these zones not known to be breeding are checked
for reproductive pathology before a decision on their utiliza-
tion in recovery efforts is made.
One of the key actions identified at the Sumatran Rhino
Crisis Summit and in the Bandar Lampung Declaration is a
unifying global strategy to manage the global population
(both wild and captive) as a single metapopulation across
national and international borders. The best example of suc-
cess of a single metapopulation strategy is that of the greater
one-horned rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis in Nepal and
India (Talukdar, ; Martin et al., ). This manage-
ment strategy has yet to be implemented for the Sumatran
rhinoceros. The national government of Malaysia and state
government of Sabah are ready to collaborate in this way.
The second agreed action is the continued deployment of
Rhino Protection Units at sites with remaining breeding po-
pulations. This has been achieved in all breeding areas but
requires strengthening, especially in northern Sumatra.
The third proposed action is the creation of intensive man-
agement zones, with increased protection and monitoring in
areas where the Sumatran rhinoceros breeds naturally. It was
also proposed that rhinoceroses outside intensive manage-
ment zones would be consolidated into these areas to achieve
the highest probability of population growth. Actions to
implement this proposal are still in the planning stages.
The fourth action of the conservation strategy is captive
breeding. Only c. one-third of all individuals captured were
subjected to systematic breeding efforts, and some of those
on only a few occasions. The development of advanced re-
productive technology for captive breeding is being pursued
in Sabah, in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo
and Wildlife Research, Agro-biotechnology Institute
Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and others. After the
techniques for removing oocytes from females and produ-
cing embryos in vitro have been ascertained it should be
possible for every female in managed conditions to produce
several progeny. This option may take many years to de-
velop, however, and we may lose the species before it be-
comes a reliable technique. Exchange of gametes between
individuals in all captive facilities, where it provides a gen-
etic advantage, must be facilitated to boost potential success
of the managed breeding programme (Goossens et al., ).
However, such a programme has yet to be agreed upon.
In Indonesia the emphasis remains on natural breeding,
although preliminary attempts are being made to insemin-
ate Sumatran rhinoceros artificially. Artificial insemination
has resulted in the births of five white rhinoceros calves in
European zoos and three greater one-horned rhinoceros
calves (Terri Roth, pers. comm.), but has not yet yielded
any results for the Sumatran rhinoceros.
Sumatran rhinoceros 3
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In conclusion, with only three small wild populations of
Sumatran rhinoceros, albeit with some records of breeding,
and nine individuals in captivity (one in Cincinatti Zoo,
three in Sabah and five in the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary,
with three individuals being closely related), and no overall
indication of recovery of the wild populations, we can say
that despite great efforts the current conservation actions
for the Sumatran rhinoceros may not be adequate to prevent
the speciesextinction. In contrast, conservation efforts, par-
ticularly consolidation and protection of small populations,
have resulted in significant population increases for other rhi-
noceros species. Plans to save the Sumatran rhinoceros are in
place at the conceptual level and there is broad consensus and
commitment to work in partnership amongst the organiza-
tions involved, but the pace of development and implemen-
tation of such plans needs to be increased. Although a
significant increase in funding for Sumatran rhinoceros
conservation has become available since the Sumatran
Rhino Crisis Summit, most of this has focused on habitat pro-
tection. Thus, new funding streamsfor metapopulation man-
agement and conservation breeding, including expanding the
conservation breeding facilities and development of advanced
reproductive technology, need to be identified. Political
will is needed to make the bold decisions to facilitate imple-
mentation of these far-reaching conservation plans. A rapidly
implementable and fully integrated metapopulation manage-
ment model incorporating all the above strategies is critical if
the Sumatran rhinoceros is to survive.
Acknowledgements
We thank the participants of the  Sumatran Rhino
Crisis Summit, hosted by Singapore Zoo and Wildlife
Reserves Singapore, Asian Rhino Project, Borneo Rhino
Alliance, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden,
Conservation Society Australia, Copenhagen Zoo, Sabah
Wildlife Department, International Rhino Foundation,
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, IUCN
Species Survival Commission, National Parks Indonesia,
Sime Darby Foundation, SOS Rhino, Taman Safari
Indonesia, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, White
Oak Conservation Center and WWFMalaysia. We also
thank Arnout van Soesbergen and Liz Farmer at UNEP
WCMC, who created the map.
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Biographical sketches
RASMUS GREN HAVMØLLER researches the ecology, genetics and con-
servation of large mammals. J UNAIDI PAYNE works on captive breeding
and surveys of the Sumatran rhinoceros in Sabah, Malaysia. WIDODO
RAMONOs focus is on captive breeding and in situ conservation of
Sumatran and Javan rhinoceroses. SUSIE ELLIS focuses on the conserva-
tion of all rhinoceros species. K . Y OGANAND leads terrestrial conserva-
tion work for WWFMalaysia in Sabah, Malaysia. B ARNEY LONG
focuses on conservation programmes for rare and threatened species in
South-east Asia. E RIC DINERSTEIN focuses on international conserva-
tion projects for large mammals. A . C HRISTY WILLIAMS is coordinator
for WWFInternational AREAS programme. RUDI PUTRA works on
the conservation of Sumatran rhinoceros and other large mammals in
Aceh, Indonesia. J AMAL GAWI is a biodiversity governance specialist.
BIBHAB TALUKDAR focuses on conservation and management of rhi-
noceroses in India and South-east Asia. NEIL BURGESS has worked on
biodiversity conservation, predominantly in Africa, for the last  years.
Sumatran rhinoceros 5
Oryx
, Page 1 of 5 ©2015 Fauna & Flora International doi:10.1017/S0030605315000472
... El rinoceronte de Sumatra, la especie más pequeña del mundo, está al borde de la extinción. En 1984 se estimaba que entre 45 y 75 ejemplares rondaban en Malasia peninsular (Flynn y Abdullah, 1984), pero la última señal de esta especie se registró en 2007 y en 2019 se consideró extinta (Havmøller et al., 2016). En Sabah, el último individuo salvaje fue capturado en una plantación de palma de aceite en 2014, sufrió una patología severa en su sistema reproductivo y era infértil (Kretzchmar et al., 2016). ...
... En Borneo se cultivan 7 millones de hectáreas de palma de aceite en tierras anteriormente cubiertas por selvas bajas, el hábitat primario de varias especies emblemáticas de vida silvestre, incluyendo el orangután (Pongo pygmaeus), el elefante de Borneo (Elephas maximus borneensis) y el rinoceronte de Sumatra (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). En Malasia peninsular, los ejemplares de especies como el tigre malasio (Panthera tigris jacksoni) bajaron de más de 1.000, antes de 1990(Topani, 1990), a menos de 200 en 2019 (informe no publicado por Global Tiger Recovery Programme, 2019), mientras que es probable que el gaur malasio (Bos gaurus hubbacki) sea el próximo gran mamífero en extinguirse localmente(Duckworth et al., 2016) después del rinoceronte de Sumatra, que fue declarado localmente extinto recientemente(Havmøller et al., 2016). A pesar de que se considera que gran parte de la tierra convertida en cultivos de palma de aceite ya fue modificada de bosque primario por la tala o producción agrícola(Jonas et al., 2017), la escala masiva en la conversión de bosques a plantaciones de monocultivos en el periodo 1990-2014 ha tenido un grave impacto en la biodiversidad de Malasia peninsular, Borneo y Sumatra. ...
... 15 The Leuser Ecosystem, a tropical rainforest in Sumatra, is thought to be home to the last remaining viable population of Sumatran rhinos. 16 Several of the world's 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots-Earth's most biologically rich yet threatened terrestrial regions-are in Asia. For example, the Himalaya Hotspot, containing the world's highest mountains and habitat for important bird and mammal species like the endangered wild water buffalo, is experiencing human-caused biodiversity loss despite its remoteness. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Many authors contributed to this report.
... 15 The Leuser Ecosystem, a tropical rainforest in Sumatra, is thought to be home to the last remaining viable population of Sumatran rhinos. 16 Several of the world's 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots-Earth's most biologically rich yet threatened terrestrial regions-are in Asia. For example, the Himalaya Hotspot, containing the world's highest mountains and habitat for important bird and mammal species like the endangered wild water buffalo, is experiencing human-caused biodiversity loss despite its remoteness. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
USAID launched an assessment of the capacity of Asian countries to develop wildlife-friendly linear infrastructure (LI), focused on roads, railways, and electric power lines. This 14-month project sought to understand the challenges and barriers that slow the adoption and implementation of safeguards that protect Asia’s diverse wildlife species and their critical habitats from the region’s rapidly expanding LI. Additionally, the program developed training materials and delivered a series of capacity-building workshops.
... Malaysia lost the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) not too long ago (DWNP, 2017). This sad state of affairs was repeated recently as the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) also went extinct (Havmøller et al., 2016;Bittel, 2019). Malaysian conservationists would certainly be very sad if the wild cat and other COVID-19 susceptible species populations are decimated or lost due to the COVID-19 virus. ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract: The COVID-19 virus is a zoonotic disease, an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has jumped from an animal (usually a vertebrate) to a human. It was declared a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) on January 30, 2020. The COVID-19 virus is also a zooanthroponosis, that can be transmitted from human to animals. Malaysia has seven wild cats’ species and five mustelids which can be found in the forests of Peninsular Malaysia as well as in captivity, in zoos and conservation facilities. Human beings have the potential to spread the COVID-19 virus to wild mustelids and big cat species, which may threaten its populations in Peninsular Malaysia. The authorities must respond swiftly during the zoonotic phase and post-zoonotic contingency phase, with stringent policies and guidelines to control the spread of the disease into natural forest habitats that may threaten the mustelids and cat populations. Keywords: Biodiversity, COVID-19, Malaysia, tropical rain forest, SARS-CoV-2, zooanthroponosis, zoonotic diseases.
... However, it is difficult to obtain accurate estimates of the historical and contemporary population sizes since Sumatran rhinoceroses are solitary and live in dense rainforests. As of 2019, the species likely numbers fewer than 100 individuals and only small, fragmented populations survive on Sumatra (D. s. sumatrensis) and Borneo (D. s. harrissoni), whereas the Malay Peninsula (D. s. sumatrensis) population is most likely extinct 38,39 . Moreover, the species' low breeding rate, in the wild due to low population density and due to female reproductive pathologies in captivity, makes it one of the most endangered rhinoceros species in the world 40 . ...
Article
Full-text available
Small populations are often exposed to high inbreeding and mutational load that can increase the risk of extinction. The Sumatran rhinoceros was widespread in Southeast Asia, but is now restricted to small and isolated populations on Sumatra and Borneo, and most likely extinct on the Malay Peninsula. Here, we analyse 5 historical and 16 modern genomes from these populations to investigate the genomic consequences of the recent decline, such as increased inbreeding and mutational load. We find that the Malay Peninsula population experienced increased inbreeding shortly before extirpation, which possibly was accompanied by purging. The populations on Sumatra and Borneo instead show low inbreeding, but high mutational load. The currently small population sizes may thus in the near future lead to inbreeding depression. Moreover, we find little evidence for differences in local adaptation among populations, suggesting that future inbreeding depression could potentially be mitigated by assisted gene flow among populations.
Article
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Three of the five rhino species that have survived are from Asia: the greater one-horned rhino or Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), which has an estimated 3,500 individuals, the Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus), which has fewer than 70 individuals, and the Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), which has fewer than 80 individuals. The Javan and Sumatran are now classified as critically endangered (CR) species on the IUCN Red List. These rhinos, which are now located in Indonesia, continue to suffer a variety of threats. S
Article
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Only five species of the once-diverse Rhinocerotidae remain, making the reconstruction of their evolutionary history a challenge to biologists since Darwin. We sequenced genomes from five rhinoceros species (three extinct and two living), which we compared to existing data from the remaining three living species and a range of outgroups. We identify an early divergence between extant African and Eurasian lineages, resolving a key debate regarding the phylogeny of extant rhinoceroses. This early Miocene (∼16 million years ago [mya]) split post-dates the land bridge formation between the Afro-Arabian and Eurasian landmasses. Our analyses also show that while rhinoceros genomes in general exhibit low levels of genome-wide diversity, heterozygosity is lowest and inbreeding is highest in the modern species. These results suggest that while low genetic diversity is a long-term feature of the family, it has been particularly exacerbated recently, likely reflecting recent anthropogenic-driven population declines.
Article
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The critically endangered Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), with an estimated population of less than 200 individuals left in isolated rainforest habitats in Malaysia, is in an intermediate population crash leading to extinction in the next decade. The population has decreased significantly by illegal poaching, environmental perturbation, roadkill, and being captured during human–wildlife conflicts. Forty-five or more individuals were extracted from the wild (four animals captured due to conflict, one death due to canine distemper, one roadkilled, and 39 poached) in the 12 years between 2008–2019. The Malayan tigers are the first wildlife species to test positive for COVID-19 and are subject to the Canine Distemper Virus. These anthropogenic disturbances (poaching and human–tiger conflict) and environmental perturbation (decreasing habitat coverage and quality) have long been identified as impending extinction factors. Roadkill and infectious diseases have emerged recently as new confounding factors threatening Malayan tiger extinction in the near future. Peninsular Malaysia has an existing Malayan tiger conservation management plan; however, to enhance the protection and conservation of Malayan tigers from potential extinction, the authority should reassess the existing legislation, regulation, and management plan and realign them to prevent further population decline, and to better enable preparedness and readiness for the ongoing pandemic and future threats.
Article
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We conducted the first systematic survey on Sumatran rhinoceros following a robust patch occupancy framework in 3,500 km(2) of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBSNP), Sumatra, Indonesia. We surveyed 55 grids (72.25 km(2)) between November 2007 and July 2008 to generate a reliable estimate of the proportion of area occupied (occupancy) by the Sumatran rhinoceros. Rhinoceros signs, e. g. footprints, dung, tree twists and wallows, were recorded along 833 km of transect routes, and 1-km sampling interval was used to develop detection/non-detection history for each grid. Rhinoceros signs were detected on 11 grids producing a nave occupancy of 0.2. Occupancy modelling was used to control for imperfect detection probability (P). Based on the Royle/Nichols Heterogeneity model we concluded that Sumatran rhinoceros occupied approximately 32% of the BBSNP area (SE = 0.09). Occupancy can serve as a robust surrogate for an index of abundance in a population-monitoring framework. Further analysis using the multi-season models of the technique on time series data and season/survey-specific covariates can provide management authorities with accurate information about changes in rhinoceros populations and assist in prioritizing conservation actions for the Sumatran rhinoceros in the region.
Article
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A study was conducted at Temenggor Forest Reserve between 2007 and 2008 with the main aim to investigate the presence and distribution of large wildlife species primarily Sumatran Rhinoceros. Two study methods were employed namely trail survey and camera trapping. Field survey recorded a total of 29 species of mammals which include 5 species of primates, 14 species of carnivores, 9 species of ungulate (including Sumatran Rhinoceros) and one species of rodents. Camera trapping captured 19 species of mammals which the most common were the Malayan Tapir, followed by the Malayan Sun Bear, Barking Deer, Gaur and Yellow-throated Marten. Pictures of Sumatran Rhinoceros were also present. At the same area, Sumatran Rhinoceros sighting also were reported in the previous studies in 2000 and early 2007. Recent evidence of Sumatran Rhinoceros were based on signs of fresh footprints, debarking of tree mark, scraped on ground and strong smell of urination at the ridge close to Sungai Talang. Evidence of the presence of Sumatran Rhinoceros at the study area is important for the conservation of this species.
Article
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The Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis is on the brink of extinction. Although habitat loss and poaching were the reasons of the decline, today's reproductive isolation is the main threat to the survival of the species. Genetic studies have played an important role in identifying conservation priorities, including for rhino-ceroses. However, for a species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, where time is of the essence in preventing extinction, to what extent should genetic and geographical distances be taken into account in deciding the most urgently needed conservation interventions? We propose that the populations of Sumatra and Borneo be considered as a single management unit.
Article
Well deserving accolades, Nepal has succeeded in granting better protection for its Asian rhino population than has any other country. According to the 2011 census, Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park and Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve had a total of 534 greater one-horned rhinos. In that year, only one rhino was poached. In 2012, just one other rhino was illegally killed. In November 2010 the Nepalese government set up three wildlife crime-control committees to work together nationally and in the districts to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade in coordination with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, the Forest Department, Customs, the army, the police, the National Investigation Department and the Crime Investigation Bureau. Emphasis was placed on apprehending traders, identifying smuggling routes and enlisting other governments in the region to coordinate action against wildlife culprits. The cooperation of Nepal's own government departments, help from non-government conservation organizations and commitment from local people living near the boundaries of the three protected wildlife areas led to more measures taken to ensure rhino protection. These measures included training of law-enforcement officers, enforced severe penalties for wildlife crimes, better anti-poaching units composed of members of the communities living around the parks, improved intelligence gathering, and more money allocated to the communities as a result of increased park income from higher entry fees, and a higher number of tourists. Local communities receive 50% of the gross income of the three protected areas. In addition, local communities are financially benefiting from providing more amenities to tourists. Despite escalating prices for rhino horn in China and Vietnam, Nepal has curtailed poachers and traders. Other rhino range States in Asia and Africa have much to learn from Nepal's successes in rhino protection.
Article
The Sumatran rhino Dicerorhinus sumatrensis is regarded as critically endangered with a world population of approximately 400. In 1991 it was recorded in Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia, 30 years after the park's last rhino was believed to have been shot. A Sumatran Rhino Population and Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA) workshop in 1993 recommended an immediate survey be carried out to assess the rhino population in the park. The Way Kambas Project recorded observations of rhino sign between 1993 and 1995. Sign was most frequently observed along trails in mature secondary forest. Data from the areas surveyed suggest the presence of at least four rhinos.
Article
The Sumatran rhinoceros has been declining in numbers for more than a century, primarily due to bunting and to loss of its habitat as land is converted to other uses. Only in the last quarter century has the international community made concerted efforts to reverse this decline. However, government officials, international funding agencies, and conservation organizations, while paying lip service to the need for strong action, have often taken the path of least resistance in helping this species. Much of the money and effort put toward Sumatran rhino conservation has focused on new technologies or politically expedient strategies that have little to do with the real reasons behind the rhino’s decline. The primary means of Sumatran rhino conservation in Indonesia and Malaysia, where viable populations might still exist, is still the capture and attempted breeding of this species-which, until now, has failed. I examined the history of the Sumatran rhino in Borneo and the recent situation in Sabah, where at least two important populations of this species might still survive. Sabah is presented as a case study that is indicative of the plight of the Sumatran rhino throughout its present range.