"We are racing against time to save Indonesian rhinoceroses, so that their fate would not be the same as that of Javanese Tiger," Indonesian WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Conservation Director Arnold Sitompul said in Jakarta on Friday (Sept. 22).
Sumatran Rhino, or Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis is under critically endangered status after their habitat reducing from eight locations to three which are Way Kambas, Bukit Barisan Selatan, and Leuser.
And for Javan Rhino or Rhinoceros Sondaicus, which is under the same condition have also been threatened due to natural factors such as possible Anak Krakatau Mountains eruption, diseases from cattle and invasive plants which affect its habitat in Ujung Kulon.
Arnold urges the Indonesian Government to put more effort to handle this issue so those rhinos would not become extinct like Javan tiger.
"Habitat conservation and letting them breed naturally are still not enough to ensure those rhinos well being. They need to be moved to a safer place and given more semi-natural breeding and better place management," he said.
Other than their location which is prone to tsunamis that may be possible due to Anak Krakatau eruption for example and shift of continental plates, census data of cattle belonging to people living around Ujung Kulon National Park shows that 90 percent of local buffalo have been found positive carrying with tripanosoma bacteria.
Those cattle which are not caged could enter the national park area and could spread the bacteria towards the rhinos and those bacteria could be lethal as well.
Continuous survey and monitoring in the last several years, according to him, showed reduction of their population. Their number is predicted at less than 100 in the last five years for Sumatran Rhino.
In connection with International Rhinoceros Day (Sept 22) he reminded that the Government should develo a second habitat for Javan Rhino. As for Sumatran one, he urged extending their currenthabitat and promoting the breeding program to increase its number.
(Reported by Virna P. Setyorini/Uu.Ian/KR-MBR/H-YH)