Indonesia’s President declares 2012 International Rhino Year

Thursday, 7 June 2012 | 3198

On the occasion of World Environment Day which fell on Tuesday, 5 June, Indonesia’s President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared 2012 the International Rhino Year. The declaration is supported by 11 countries that include among others, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Indonesia and Zimbabwe.

 “In conjunction with the 2012 World Environment Day . . .  I declare 2012 as the International Rhino Year. We’ve agreed to preserve the rhinoceros, which live in mere 11 countries now, and prevent their extinction,” President Yudhoyono said at Jakarta’s Merdeka Palace, as reported by the Jakarta Globe.

“Let’s make the preservation of rhinos part of an effort to establish our nation’s reputation as one of the global leaders in environment-oriented economic development,” the President added.

It was the International Union for Conservation of Nature who proposed that Indonesia be host to the launch of the international campaign since Indonesia has so far managed to preserve its two rhino species.

Simon N. Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, said Indonesia was appointed the host of the International Rhino Day's inception because it is home to the world’s two most endangered rhino species, namely the Sumatran and Javan rhinoceros.

The Java rhinos are protected in the extensive Ujung Kulon National Park located at the most western tip of West Java, while the near extinct Sumatran rhinoceros now numbering 200 can be found only at the Way Kambas Reserve located at the most southern tip of Sumatra in the province of Lampung as well as in Aceh’s Gunung Leuser National Park. Nevertheless, expanding human settlements and poaching still threaten their existence in Sumatra.
Scienists say that there are today only an estimated 35 to 40 Java rhinos left in Ujung Kulon, or for that matter in the world at large, while Vietnam, that once had a Java rhino population, reported that the last rhino in that country died last year. Hidden cameras set up in Ujung Kulon have recently captured photographs of rhinos with female calf indicating that rhinos still breed here.
There are currently just five rhino species left in the world: they are the Sumatran and Javan rhinos in Indonesia; Indian rhinos in Nepal, India and Bhutan; white rhinos in Botswana, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and black rhinos in Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zimambwe and Botswana.

Meanwhile Indonesia’s Forestry Minister, Zulkifli Hasan ensures that Indonesia still has sufficient funds to protect its rhinos, covering a total of Rp. 300 billion not yet counting private sector contributions.   

(Sources: Jakarta Globe, Kompas)

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