Saving Sumatran rhinos

Endangered rhinos face Chinese threat

The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) (report, 9 September) has long been known in eastern Sabah (one of the two states of Malaysian Borneo, the other being Sarawak), where strenuous efforts have been made to conserve the species, They also occur in parts of Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan). They were thought to be extinct in Sarawak from the 1950s until 1986, when I confirmed that a small population survived in a remote valley in the northern interior (see related article).

The species is critically endangered throughout its range in Borneo and Sumatra, the chief problem being hunting to supply body parts for Chinese traditional medicines. The growth of China’s economy is likely to apply devastating pressure to this and hundreds of other wild species that are in demand for similar reasons, ranging from seahorses to tigers. Conservation agencies and NGOs such as SOS Rhino should receive all our support in trying to reduce these threats.

Julian Caldecott, published in The Independent, 13 September 2006.