Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saving the last remaining Javan Rhinos in Ujung Kulon

Ujung Kulon National Park, which may be the last remaining safe haven of the near extinct Javan Rhino, signed an agreement this week with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) to help fund a new conservation and rehabilitation initiative in an effort to expand the population of what is widely regarded as the world’s rarest mammal.

Ujung Kulon National Park, a 122,451-hectare pristine forest and marine reserve located on the far western tip of Java Island, is home to one of the last known populations of Javan Rhinos. The Javan Rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) was once one of the most widespread of the Asian rhinos, with populations ranging across Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Peninsula Malaysia. Hundreds of years of game hunting during the Colonial era resulted in the most dramatic population reduction. Until the past decade, illegal poaching for the valuable and rare single horn of the unique animal due to poverty in rural Indonesia and habitat degradation continued to threaten the remaining Javan Rhinos in Indonesia. Today, the population has fallen to a level of grave extinction and Ujung Kulon National Park officials believe the estimated 50 Javan Rhinos that live in its forests could be the last known existing in the wild anywhere in the world. No Javan Rhinos currently live in captivity.

With the support of Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry, an agreement was signed this week between Ujung Kulon National Park and APP for a new partnership to help advance Indonesia’s Rhino Conservation Action Plan, which was enacted by the Ministry of Forestry in 2007. Mr. Darori, Director General, Forest Protection and Nature Conservation witnessed the signing of the agreement by Agus Priambudi, M.Se., Head of Ujung Kulon National Park, and Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of APP.

The Ujung Kulon partnership with APP will help increase protection of the existing population and advance expansion goals in support of Indonesia’s Rhino Conservation Action Plan. The new program will encompass a range of rehabilitation and conservation activities to improve the overall environment for the protection of the existing population, and provide community empowerment, and awareness and education programs to help protect rhino and its habitat.

“We all share a tremendous responsibility in our struggle to save the Javan Rhino and I have great respect for APP for their commitment to help preserve this very rare and special animal for generations to come. We need the support of national stakeholders and private companies to work as true partners to help protect and enhance the environment in the existing national park and to help us create new habitats that are essential to our effort to expand Indonesia’s Javan Rhino population by as much as 50 percent by 2015,” said Mr. Priambudi.

APP has committed IDR 3 Billion (equivalent to approximately US$300,000) in initial funding as part of a five-year initiative that supports the Strategy and Action Plan for Rhino Conservation, particularly for Javan Rhinos. The major focus of the program includes population protection, habitat rehabilitation, harmonious co-existence of rhinos and the community, and research. APP will also support the National Park’s Patrol Unit that strengthens forest security, and support monitoring of the existing population using camera traps.

“Conservation and preservation of our wildlife and biodiversity must go hand-in-hand with community development and education. We have to promote harmony and co-existence of wildlife with the people of Indonesia who live in these remote areas and have a culture and history of relying on the land and nature for their livelihoods. Our goal is to create partnerships that will enable us to ensure the future health and well being of the Javan Rhino as well as other endangered species across Indonesia while creating opportunities for our people to live better lives,” said Ms. Greenbury.

APP’s initial involvement in the Javan Rhino conservation effort started with a partnership with the Indonesian Rhino Foundation (YABI) in June 2010. Under the direction of the Department of Conservation of the Ministry of Forestry, APP partnered with Ujung Kulon National Park to develop a multistakeholder working group that included collaboration with NGOs, academics, regional and local government officials to identify and address the most urgent needs to support population expansion. This multistakeholder working group led to the creation of this new partnership.

To view photos of Indonesia’s Javan Rhino, courtesy of Alain Compost photography, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asiapulppaper/sets/72157626717928954/

To view video associated with this release, visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/asiapulpandpaper

About Ujung Kulon National Park

Ujung Kulon, managed by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, was Indonesia’s first proposed national park and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The area contains one of the largest remaining lowland rainforests in Java and protects 57 rare species of plants and 35 mammal species. Among endangered and rare animals roaming the national park are leopard cats, gibbons, long-tailed macaques, leaf-monkeys, crocodiles, muntjaks, mousedeer and herds of grazing wild oxen. In the park’s surrounding seas are the great clam, clown fish, angel fish, parrot fish, mudskippers which can climb trees and archer fish which spit water up a height of more than two meters to catch insects.

In March 2011, images from a hidden video trap were published showing adult and juvenile Javan Rhinos within the park, indicating recent mating and briefings. Within the last 10 years, 14 Javan Rhino births have been documented, including evidence of a female birth that would help promote continued expansion of the population.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6724000&lang=en

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE : http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6724000

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