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Last stand of the Sumatran Rhinoceros

15 May 2013

Sumatran rhinoceros

Two DGFC members, Benoit Goossens and Milena Salgado-Lynn, together with colleagues from the Borneo Rhino Alliance and the Sabah Wildlife Department recently published a paper on the Last Stand of the Sumatran Rhinoceros in the journal Oryx. In this paper, they demonstrate the vital necessity to consider the remaining populations of Sumatran rhinoceros in Sumatra and Borneo as a single conservation unit. 

The Sumatran rhinoceros is critically endangered, with a decreasing population trend and a total number of individuals as low as 100 confined in a few disjunct populations in Indonesia (Sumatra and possibly Kalimantan) and Malaysia (Sabah)", said Datuk Junaidi Payne, Executive Director of BORA and a co-author on the paper. "Although habitat loss and poaching were the reasons of the decline, today's reproductive isolation of individuals, too sparsely scattered even within protected areas, is the main threat to the survival of the species," added Payne. 

"In our paper, we discuss the pros and cons of considering the populations of Sumatran rhinoceros from Sumatra and Borneo as a single management unit," explained Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of DGFC and the lead author of the paper. "For a species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, where time is of the essence in preventing extinction, we must ask to what extent should genetic and geographical distances be taken into account in deciding the most urgently needed conservation interventions," added Goossens. "Genetic differences are minimal and we strongly believe that the observed differences do not justify keeping the Sumatran and Bornean populations as separate management units," concluded Goossens. 

More information can be found on http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0515-sumatran-rhino.html and http://borneoinsider.com/2013/05/15/last-stand-for-the-sumatran-rhinoceros/ 

The PDF of the paper can be requested from Benoit Goossens at goossensbr@cardiff.ac.uk