By Jakarta Globe on 10:28 am December 23, 2013.
Indonesia has seen a dramatic decline in the number of Javan and Sumatran rhinos over the past eight years, according to a director of an organization dedicated to preserving the animals.
“Rhinos can no longer be found in Jambi, South Sumatra and Bengkulu — places that were once the main habitat for those populations,” Indonesia Rhino Foundation (YABI) executive director Widodo Ramono said, as quoted by Antaranews.com.
According to him, the rhino population not in captivity in Java and Sumatra has fallen from 800 eight years ago to an estimated 100 now. Thirty of them are in Way Kambas National Park, Lampung.
The remainder, he said, now live in South Bukit Barisan National Park, spanning the Sumatran provinces of Lampung, Bengkulu and South Sumatra.
Speaking at a workshop and socialization event for law enforcement against the killing and trade of protected animals, Widodo called on the government and public to make serious efforts to protect the animals, which are on the brink of extinction.
Rhino horns remain a sought-after ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and demand for it in countries such as China and Vietnam has led to thousands of the animals being killed across Africa and Asia in recent years.
“Rhinos are part of what supports humans’ ecosystem,” he said. “Poaching and forest encroachment have become the main cause of their decline.”
Widodo said YABI was committed to ensuring local rhinos were well protected.
“It is such a shame conservation efforts cannot balance out the speed at which they are going extinct,” he said.