Strengthening protection and monitoring of Sumatran rhinos in Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia
Target species for conservation
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Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia, is one of the main sites for future safeguard of critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. Way Kambas is a high biodiversity area, containing significant (25-35) populations of Sumatran rhino, the Sumatran race of tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus). Current global population of wild Sumatran rhino ranges in between 150-220. This project, run by the International Rhino Foundation in partnership with Yayasan Badak Indonesia, is part of a long-term effort to ensure the survival of the Sumatran rhino, as well as other threatened Sumatran species through intensive protection and monitoring.
Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) are highly trained anti-poaching teams that are effectively protecting wildlife and habitat in Way Kambas National Park. The five RPUs have been successful in preventing poaching of rhino and/or other wildlife. However, the current politic and economic situation in Indonesia still poses a significant challenge for the conservation of rhino and other wildlife, and active protection is still needed. Pressure on the natural resources is continuing and accelerating in all conservation areas in Indonesia, including Way Kambas, while the effectiveness of the Park staff to counter the pressure is being reduced by lack of support from other sectors of Government and a general lack of morale. The RPUs are the most stable and most effective force in the protection of the Park when confronted with illegal activities, working closely with police to prosecute illegal activities. They have been very successful in preventing any poaching of rhinos, and so far no poaching specifically targeting rhino has been recorded, though poaching of other species for meat and sport is increasing in Way Kambas. The current five RPU teams can adequately cover the rhino area in the centre of the Park, although they need additional equipment to enhance communications and response efficiency.
Further in 2009-10, encroachment in western part of Way Kambas NP was removed by the Government of Indonesia leading to more areas in western part being occupied by Sumatran Rhino. This needs further strengthening of protection with regular monitoring. In the northern part of the park, there is a need to construct a floating boat guard post for monitoring the area along the Way Kanan river.
Long term goal of this project is to stabilize the population of Sumatran Rhino in Way Kambas NP through
- monitoring the population growth of Sumatran rhino
- reducing the number of poaching to zero
Once the Sumatran rhino population in Way Kambas reaches its peak, future translocation of Sumatran rhino from Way Kambas to other potential forests in Indonesia could be planned.
Funds from the EAZA IUCN/SSC Southeast Asia Campaign will be used towards supporting existing RPUs and a floating boat guard post to reduce poaching and other illegal activities in the northern side of the park.