Conservation News: Rhinos, Tigers, and Turtles

Does Hope Still Exist for the Sumatran Rhino?

This is an update of the captured Sumatran Rhino. To learn more about the story, read here!

After her capture, the Sumatran rhino, named Najaq, succumbed to infection just days after. According to Arnold Sitompul, conservation director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Indonesia, early evidence suggests that the cause of the infection was by a snare from an earlier poaching attempt.01sumatranrhino-adapt-1190-1

“The sad death of this rhino reminds us of the tremendous challenges associated with protecting the Sumatran rhino population in the Indonesian part of Borneo,” says Sitompul.

When WWF announced a successful capture of a female Sumatran rhino in the Kalimantan region, the Indonesian part of Borneo, it was a pleasant surprise. Since last year, the Sumatran rhino was assumed to be extinct from the region after 40 years of no evidence. They had planned to move Najaq to another region in hopes of starting a rhino sanctuary and breeding program as part of the conservation effort.

Despite setbacks, it remains true that the Sumatran rhinos still remain in the wild. WWF will continue to make efforts to find more rhinos.

Like how Carlos Drews, director of the WWF International Global Species program, said, “Today we feel despair over the loss of that same rhino. We now know that there are more Sumatran rhinos in this region and we will work to protect the remaining individuals. This was the first physical contact with the species in the area for over 40 years, we will make great efforts to make sure that it is not the last.”

Rare Rhino Dies Days After Her Rediscovery


Plans to Bring Back Cambodia’s Tigers

Tigers are a flagship species and symbolize conservation efforts for all of Cambodia’s endangered species. In addition, tigers also represent a balanced ecosystem. Therefore, tiger reintroduction symbolizes hope and strengthened conservation for the whole region.

Cambodia’s dry forests used to be home to Indochinese tigers until intensive poaching devastated their population. The last tiger was seen on camera trap in the eastern Mondulkiri province in 2007. After more research, WWF gave a statement saying, “Today, there are no longer any breeding populations of tigers left in Cambodia, and they are therefore considered functionally extinct.”

Heng Sinith/AP

Last month, the Cambodian government, in an effort to revive the population, approved the Cambodia’s Tiger Action Plan (CTAP) to reintroduce the species. The $20 to $50 million plan will include protecting a chunk of suitable habitat against poachers with strong law enforcement.

Keo Omaliss, director of the Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity told reporters, “We want two male tigers and five to six female tigers for the start.” The tigers will come from other countries, like India, to source tigers. If successful, this will be the first tiger reintroduction across country borders. 

“The plan is to bring in the tigers after two years because Cambodia needs to resolve related issues such as poaching and rebuilding the population of tiger prey,” said Chhit Sam Ath, the director of WWF-Cambodia. He said the arrival of the tigers could be pushed back to 2018 if the preservation efforts are not completed by 2017.

shutterstock_109249091Cambodia’s plan is aimed to help double tiger populations by 2022, following the Tx2 goal set in 2010 by countries with tiger populations. This includes countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

A recent success in tiger conservation was in India. The wild tiger population in India has jumped from 1,706 to an estimated 2,226 since 2011, approximately a 30% increase. As a result, India is now home to around 70% of the world’s tiger population. There is an estimate of 3,200 globally.

Cambodian officials will join officials from the other 12 countries from April 12-14 in Delhi for the 3rd Asia Ministerial Meeting on Tigers. It will be a key opportunity for the officials to come together and discuss the global goal to double wild tigers.

Tigers Declared ‘Functionally Extinct’ in Cambodia

Tigers Declared Extinct in Cambodia

Press Conference to Congratulate Government on Approval of Cambodia Tiger Action Plan

Cambodia to Repopulate Forests with Tigers from Abroad


Lowered Green Sea Turtles’ Conservation Status

US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) officials announced that the green sea turtles of Florida and Pacific coast of Mexico are no longer considered endangered, but threatened. They will continue to be protected under the Endangered Species Act, but are no longer faced with an imminent risk of extinction.

This isn’t the only change to the green sea turtles’ conservation efforts. The US FWS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) divided the green sea turtles globally into 11 distinct populations, “allowing for tailored conservation approaches for each population”. Majority, including the Florida/Mexican population, are listed as threatened. However, three populations that are considered endangered, those in the Mediterranean Sea, Central South Pacific, and Central West Pacific Ocean.

In Florida alone, there were only a handful of nesting females in 1978, when the populations was initially listed as endangered. Since then, here are some 2,250 nesting females counted in the last census.

“Successful conservation and management efforts developed in Florida and along the Pacific coast of Mexico are a roadmap for further recovery strategies of green turtle populations around the world,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator.

David Burdick/NOAA

Sea turtles have faced a host of threats, from beach development, to pollution, to fishing nets. And for the turtles in the Florida Keys, they are still being made into canned soup since the early 1970s. NOAA states that “successful measures have included protection of nesting beaches, reduction of bycatch in fisheries and prohibitions on the direct harvest of sea turtles”.

Challenges still remain.

Climate change and rising sea level can erode beach nesting habitats and raise the temperature of sand, resulting in skewed sex ratios and lethal incubation conditions.

Another is the concern of a herpes-related virus called fibropapillomatosis, or FP, which is common among young green sea turtles in warmer waters and can cause fatal tumors. It is likely that the threat will continue to increase along the human-driven population of the shores.

Not to mention that fishing gear and boat strikes also kill a significant numbers of turtles each year.

“Sea turtles face a lot of threats, from plastic trash to sea-level rise…even poaching,” said Catherine Kilduff of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Green Sea Turtles of Florida, Mexico No Longer Endangered

Green Sea Turtles Are No Longer Endangered in Florida and Mexico

Conservation Efforts for Florida, Pacific Coast Green Sea Turtles Working, Agencies Say


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