The Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Although previously found throughout South-east Asia, its population is now restricted to reserves in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo (Zafir et al., 2011). After a gap of many years with no information on the existence of the Sumatran rhino, intensive surveys were done by the Leuser International Foundation (LIF) in cooperation with Gunung Leuser National Park agency (BBTNGL) in Gunung Leuser National Park area in 2011-2012 where they are known to exist. For the first time in many years the survey teams were able to gather clear evidence of the presence of these rhinos.
The Leuser International Foundation (LIF) in cooperation with Gunung Leuser National Park agency (BBTNGL) conducted a Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) habitat and population survey in the Gunung Leuser National Park area from February 2011 to February 2012. This activity, which is on going, is funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and has made remarkable progress with the detection of the Sumatra rhino’s presence in the Leuser area. This presence of the Sumatran rhino has been proven by detection signs in the field and further confirmed by camera trap photos.
Fred Bagley from US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) made a visit to North Sumatra and Aceh on 16-21 March 2012 for a first hand report on the results of the survey. He went to the field and met the members of the Rhino Survey team.
This survey is also supported by the Indonesian Rhino Foundation(YABI) through the provision of training and capacity building for LIF and BBTNGL staff on how to detect the presence of the Sumatran rhino. This Sumatran rhino survey team also included some members of YABI, university students of North Sumatra University (USU) and members of the local community.
Fred Bagley also attended a meeting with the leaders of the LIF and Gunung Leuser National Park at the LIF office in Medan on 19-20 March 2012. Also present at this meeting were the representatives of other relevant organizations such as International Rhino Foundation, Yayasan Badak Indonesia, BKSDA Aceh, BBTNGL and BPKEL. Those present from the LIF side included Prof. Meneth Ginting, Prof. Jusuf Hanafiah, Prof. Syamsul Arifin (members of LIF Board of Trustees), Jamal M Gawi (Chairperson of LIF Board of Directors), Hendardi (Vice Chairperson of LIF Board of Directors) Agus Salim (Executive Chairperson of LIF) and G.V. Reddy (LIF Consultant for Wildlife Conservation).
At this meeting a presentation was made on the evidence of the presence of the Sumatran rhino in the TNGL area as a result of a survey by LIF in collaboration with BBTNGL and YABI with funding support from USFWS. These signs include Sumatran rhino tracks, twisted branches, feces, wallows and camera trap photos.
Illegal Activities Monitored
The survey team also monitored illegal activities that were on going such as poaching, encroachment, illegal logging and other illegal activities inside Gunung Leuser National Park especially around the Sumatran rhino’s habitat area. This information will be useful for future conservation efforts and the viability of the remaining Sumatran rhino population in the Gunung Leuser National Park area.
Meeting in progress at the LIF office in Medan on 20 March 2012
attended by representatives from USFWS, IRF, YABI, BBTNGL and BPKEL