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To rescue Sumatran rhinos, Indonesia starts by counting them first

15 / 04 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

LAMPUNG, Indonesia — Indonesian rhino researcher Budiono recorded every sign of living animals in Sumatra’s Way Kambas National Park: from mud pits and footprints, to scratches on tree trunks and half-eaten leaves on the ground. Each of these might point to an elusive creature: the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). “We want definitive clues that point us to where the Sumatran rhinos are,” said Budiono, a researcher with the Indonesian Rhino Foundation (YABI). Budiono was one of 34 people taking part in the painstaking search for signs of the critically endangered animals in known rhino habitats within this park, one of the species’ last strongholds. The five-day program took place in February, a collaboration between the park agency, Indonesia’s environment ministry, YABI, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The exercise was part of a bid to obtain more comprehensive information on the size of the rhino population on Sumatra, home to the majority of the surviving members of this nearly extinct species, said Indra Eksploitasia, the environment ministry’s director of biodiversity conservation. Harapan, a male rhino born in the U.S., is cared for at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park. Image by Muhammad Adimaja. Indonesia is the last place on Earth where wild Sumatran rhinos still roam. In addition to those on the eponymous island, a small population is believed to survive in Indonesian Borneo. Estimates of the current size of the wild rhino population range from 30 to 100 individuals. (Another nine live in…

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