Tue, 16 Sep 2003

Sumatran rhino on brink of extinction

BENGKULU, Bengkulu: An environmentalist warned on Monday that unless adequate measures were taken, the Sumatran rhino, which live in protected forests in Bengkulu province, would soon become extinct.

The head of the Bengkulu provincial office of the Natural Resources Conservation Board, Agus Priambudi, estimated the number of Sumatran rhinos (dicerorhinus sumatrensis) living in Bengkulu's protected forests at just 10 animals.

"Illegal hunting is considered to be one of the reasons for the continued decline in the population of the Sumatran rhino," he said.

He further noted that only 50 Sumatran tigers (phantera tigris sumatrae) continued to survive in Bengkulu's protected forests.

He said wealthy people frequently went to Bengkulu to hunt the rhinos and tigers.

"They usually pay the locals a large sum of money to hunt these beasts," Agus said.

To prevent poaching, he said, his office had intensified efforts to patrol the habitat of the rhinos and tigers in national parks in Semidang Bukit Kaba, southern Bengkulu, and Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan, both in Rejang Lebong district. --Antara