Ecology and Conservation of the Sumatran Rhinoceros in Sumatra
The Fulbright Program
Wildlife Conservation Society – Indonesia Program
Sumatran rhinoceros were once distributed from the Himalayas to Sumatra, Indonesia (Foose and Strien 1997), but currently have been extirpated from most their historical range. The world population of Sumatran rhinoceros is estimated to have decreased from 600 animals in 1985 to less than 300 in 1995 (Foose and Strein 1997), with the current population believed to be around 200 individuals (SKBI 2007). The Sumatran rhino population on the Malay Peninsula is presumed to be extinct (Clements et al. 2010, Zafir et al. 2010), while only a few Sumatran Rhinos remain in the wild in Borneo. The current conservation strategy for the Sumatran rhino on Borneo is to capture all remaining individuals and form a captive breeding program directed by the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA). On the island of Sumatra, the location with the largest number of Sumatra rhinos in the wild, animals are distributed among 3 discrete populations associated with the National Parks of Gunung Leuser, Bukit Barisan Selatan, and Way Kambas. To date, no systematic surveys have been conducted to estimate the population size of rhinos at these locations.
For my MS research, I plan on assessing the distribution of Sumatran rhinoceros on Sumatra using the data from an island-wide large mammal patch occupancy survey (Wibisono et al. 2011), along with a Sumatran rhino survey conducted in Gunung Leuser National Park (NP) (Pusparini et al. 2010). Occurrence of Sumatran rhinos will be modeled using bioclimatic variables (http://www.worldclim.org/bioclim), in addition to environmental and anthropogenic variables that will include altitude, slope, forest cover, distance to river, distance to road, and distance to settlements. Analysis of population change will be conducted for Bukit Barisan Selatan NP since patch occupancy surveys were conducted both in 2008 and 2010. I will estimate the change in occupancy, and the local extinction and colonization rates, with the overall goal of guiding the the conservation of Sumatran Rhinos in the wild.
- Wibisono, H.T., M. Linkie, G. Guillera-Arroita, J.A. Smith, Sunarto, and W. Pusparini, et. al. 2011. Population status of a cryptic top predator: An island-wide assessment of tigers in Sumatran rainforests. PLoS ONE 6(11): e25931. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025931
- Wibisono, H.T., and W. Pusparini. 2010. Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae): A review of conservation status. Integrative Zoology (5): 313-323. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-4877.2010.00219.x
Last updated November 27, 2012 by Roxann Cormier