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Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 0925593

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 0925593) - Sumatran rhino - Awarded $25,000 on July 20, 2010

Established in 1989, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is dedicated to the survival of the world’s rhino species through conservation and research. At the heart of IRF’s vision is the belief that these magnificent species should endure for future generations, and that protecting rhinos ensures the survival of many other species that share their habitat, including people. All five living rhino species are in terrible peril - from poaching, from forest loss and habitat conversion, and from human settlements encroaching on their habitats. IRF works to protect particularly threatened rhino populations and their habitats in Africa and Asia. Fewer than 225 Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos are believed to remain on Earth. The population declined at a rate of 50% in the 1980s and 1990s from deforestation and habitat fragmentation. Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBS) and Way Kambas National Park (WK) in Sumatra, Indonesia, are two of the three major habitats for Sumatran rhino, and are also two of the highest priority areas for other threatened megafauna, including the Sumatran tiger and Sumatran elephant. Approximately 50-70 rhino, 40-50 tigers, and about 500 elephants inhabit BBS. Way Kambas is home to 25-27 adult rhino, not including juveniles. The main cause of the initial decline of Sumatran rhinos was poaching for horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Now, the populations are also limited by available habitat, which is continuously being encroached by human populations. In Bukit Barisan and Way Kambas, illegal encroachment and conversion of forests to agricultural land has reduced the parks’ area by up to 30%. The International Rhino Foundation funds and operates Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) in these parks, to prevent poaching and encroachment, and to monitor and protect threatened species and the overall habitat. RPUs are highly trained four-person anti-poaching teams (made up of local community members) that intensively patrol key areas within national parks, deactivating traps and snares; identifying and apprehending illegal intruders, including poachers; and investigating crime scenes, thus preventing or reducing the loss of wildlife. The RPU program has essentially helped put a halt to rhino poaching in these two parks. The successes of these units have kept Sumatran rhinos from extinction and remain critical for their continued survival.

Project 0925593 location - Indonesia, Asia