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Adopt a Rhino

 

The Sumatran rhinoceros is one of the most endangered mammals on Earth. No more than 200 animals survive in small, isolated forest fragments in Indonesia and Malaysia.
 
You can help protect the Sumatran rhino from extinction by "adopting" the rhinos at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary!
 

Sumatran Rhino Conservation Program

sumatran-rhino-profileNo more than 100 Sumatran rhinos survive in very small and highly fragmented populations in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia and Malaysia the only significant range countries. The largest populations of wild rhinos are found in Bukit Barisan Selatan, Gunung Leuser, and Way Kambas National Parks in Sumatra, Indonesia; there  is also a small population in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. 

 
With our major local partner, the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia (Yayasan Badak Indonesia or YABI), the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) operates a comprehensive program aimed at protecting and increasing the populations of Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia. Our multi-faceted approach includes protection of Sumatran rhinos and their habitat (through our Rhino Protection Units), research on and captive breeding of the species at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, a collaboration with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, and outreach to local communities, including both education programs and alternative income development.
 
Wildlife Protection and Community Outreach
way-kambas-mapBukit Barisan Selatan National Park and Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia, are two of the three major remaining 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 rhino, 40-50 tigers, and about 500 elephants inhabit Bukit Barisan Selatan. Way Kambas is home to 25-35 Sumatran rhino. 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. IRF and our local partner, YABI, operate 7 Rhino Protection Units in Bukit Barisan Selatan and 5 Rhino Protection Units in Way Kambas.  In addition, our RPUs are actively involved in training similar units in Gunung Leuser National Park.

Rhino Protection Units
bbs-rpusRhino Protection Units (RPUs) are highly-trained, four-person anti-poaching teams that intensively patrol key areas within Indonesia’s national parks. They monitor threatened wildlife, deactivate traps and snares, identify and apprehend illegal intruders, including poachers, and investigate crime scenes, thus preventing or reducing the loss of wildlife. The goal of the RPU program is to ensure the survival of Sumatran rhinos and other threatened species by preventing poaching and habitat destruction.
 

waykambas-rpusEach RPU member spends at least 15 days per month on patrol and uses standard field data sheets to record signs of rhino, including direct sightings, tracks, dung, evidence of feeding, and wallows. Signs of other threatened wildlife, human disturbance and other illegal activities are also recorded. Any traps or snares discovered during patrols are removed immediately and any illegal activity is investigated. If appropriate, evidence is collected, arrests are made, and a crime report prepared. This work is augmented by a law enforcement and advocacy program that facilitates prosecution of poachers.

In the two national parks where the RPUs operate, no Sumatran rhinos
have been poached in more than seven years. 
In addition to the Sumatran rhino, other threatened species that benefit from the RPU program include:
 
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park
Reptiles
King cobra
 
Birds
Black partridge
Blue-banded kingfisher
Crestless fireback
Salvadori’s pheasant
Short-toed coucal
Storm’s stork
Sumatran ground cuckoo
Sunda blue flycatcher
Sunda nightjar
Wallace’s hawk-eagle
White-winged wood duck

Mammals
Agile gibbon
Asian small-clawed otter
Banded civet
Binturong
Brook’s Dyak fruit bat
Dhole
Greater slow loris
Horsfield’s tarsier
Malayan pangolin
Malayan sun bear
Malayan tapir
Pig-tailed macaque
Mammals cont.
Rajah spiny rat
Sambar
Agile gibbon
Asian small-clawed otterBanded civet
Binturong
Brook’s Dyak fruit bat
Dhole
Greater slow loris
Horsfield’s tarsier
Malayan pangolin
Malayan sun bear
Malayan tapir
Pig-tailed macaque
Rajah spiny rat
Sambar
Siamang
Smoky flying squirrel
Smooth-coated otter
Sumatran elephant
Sumatran serow
Sumatran striped rabbit
Sumatran tiger
Sunda clouded leopard
Sunda otter civet
Temminck’s flying squirrel
Whiskered flying squirrel
Whitehead’s spiny rat
 
Way Kambas National Park
Amphibians
Fanged river frog
 
Reptiles
King cobra
 
Birds
Black partridge
Blue-banded kingfisher
Crestless fireback
Lesser adjutant
Nordmann’s greenshank
Short-toed coucal
Storm’s stork
Sunda blue flycatcher
Sunda nightjar
White-winged wood duck
Mammals
Agile gibbon
Asian small-clawed otter
Banded civet
Binturong
Brook’s Dyak fruit bat
Dark-tailed tree rat
Greater slow loris
Horsfield’s tarsier
Malayan pangolin
Malayan sun bear
Malayan tapir
Pig-tailed macaque
Rajah spiny rat
Sambar
Siamang
Smoky flying squirrel
Smooth-coated otter
Sumatran elephant
Sumatran tiger
Sunda otter civet
Temminck’s flying squirrel
Whiskered flying squirrel
Whitehead’s spiny rat

rpu-finds-a-snareThanks to community development activities, the RPUs also have been successful in halting and even turning back encroachment in some areas of the parks. By preventing encroachment and keeping the forests intact, RPUs also help ensure that these critical habitats continue to provide important ecosystem services (clean water, clean air, reduced erosion, carbon removal) for local communities.
 
The RPU program is strongly supported by these communities because it provides a source of employment and income. IRF works to ensure that people living in close proximity to the national parks are active partners in wildlife protection and reap direct benefits from conservation efforts. With partners, we also conduct alternative income generation and education programs. These activities help develop a sense of ownership for Indonesia’s rich biological heritage and provide incentives for preventing encroachment and other illegal activities.
 
The five RPUs in Way Kambas National Park have been busy planting rhino and elephant food plants in an area of the park that government authorities reclaimed from encroachers. The RPUs helped remove and relocate almost 500 squatters and destroyed about 300 temporary houses, including an illegal fishing village near the mouth of the Way Kanan River. Our team is now working to restore natural habitat on these lands by planting native food plant species. We are encouraged that the Sumatran rhino population appears to have grown to 33 animals and there are signs of new rhino calves.
 
The RPUs also have been working with adjacent communities to develop alternative farming practices that should help boost local incomes, as well as discourage future encroachment within Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.  Through a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Network, the RPUs were able to establish demonstration plots using environmentally-friendly agricultural practices and conduct sustainable farming training programs. Small timber and rubber tree crops have been planted and, although it requires seven years until the first harvest, the long-term benefit of higher yearly returns will be significant.  For example, a family can expect to earn US $500 for each hectare of rubber plantation. 
 
Research and Captive Breeding
andalas-world-rhino-dayThere are now 11 Sumatran rhinos in captivity worldwide - two at the Cincinnati Zoo, one at the Los Angeles Zoo, three at a special facility in Sabah, Malaysia, and now - with the birth of a new calf on June 23rd, 2012 - five at Indonesia’s Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS). The International Rhino Foundation participates in the Global Propagation and Management Board, an international group that brings all stakeholders together to manage this small and dispersed captive Sumatran rhino population at the global level.
 
bina-at-srsIRF helps manage the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, a 250-acre complex located within Way Kambas National Park. At the Sanctuary, the rhinos reside in large, natural rainforest habitats while still receiving state-of-the-art veterinary care and nutrition. Four adult rhinos – a male, Andalas, and females Rosa, Ratu, and Bina – are part of an intensively managed research and breeding program.  The dual goals of this program are to increase our knowledge about the ecology and behavior of this ctrically endangered species, while also increasing the population in the wild. 
 
ratu-and-andatu-at-srsOn June 23, 2012, the female Ratu gave birth to a male calf, Andatu, after having been bred by Andalas in March 2011 and taking a 16-month pregnancy to term. 
 
Ratu is a wild Sumatran rhino who wandered out of Way Kambas National Park in 2005, came into contact with local villagers, and ultimately was rescued and brought to the SRS. Andalas is one of three Sumatran rhinos born and raised at the Cincinnati Zoo – the first of his species, in fact, born in captivity in more than a century. In 2007, he was sent to the Sanctuary with hopes that he would sire calves from one or more of the females. The “courtship” of Andalas and Ratu spanned a few years and included two unsuccessful pregnancies prior to the birth of Andatu.
 
andatu-and-dedi-at-srsIndonesian veterinarian Dr. Dedi Candra supervised Ratu’s daily care throughout the 16-month pregnancy, in consultation with Dr. Terri Roth, the Cincinnati Zoo’s VP for Conservation and Science.  Dr. Roth has directly managed three of the world’s five known captive Sumatran rhino births. Ratu was weighed weekly and underwent routine ultrasound exams throughout the pregnancy, while also being allowed daily access to a large forested enclosure where she could browse on native plants and wallow in the mud at leisure. In preparation for the birth, Sanctuary staff constructed a special enclosure (boma) where Ratu and her calf received the best care possible and were monitored continually with closed-circuit video cameras. In addition, IRF invited several rhino specialists from Australia and the United States to Indonesia to help both with pre-partum and post-partum care.
 
Given the Sumatran rhino’s Critically Endangered status, it’s important that we learn as much as possible about this species – its basic biology, disease risks, food and habitat requirements – to help it survive. The rhinos living at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, and as instruments for education for local communities and the general public. They also comprise an ‘insurance’ population that can be used to re-establish or revitalize wild populations, once threats have been eliminated in their natural habitat.