| A one-horned rhino with its calf at the Guwahati zoo. (Reuters) |
Guwahati, Sept. 27: Officials and ministers from the rhino range countries of Asia will meet in Indonesia next month to discuss measures for conservation of the species.
This is the first time that such a meeting is being held to discuss the need to network and have political commitment to save the three Asian rhino species.
Sources said the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had requested the Indonesian government to hold a meeting of Asian rhino range states since the level of conservation and global attention for Asian rhinos was well below that for the African rhino.
Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal will take part in the meeting to be held at Lampung in Indonesia from October 2 to 4.
The three Asian rhino species are the greater one-horned rhino (rhinoceros unicornis), the Javan or lesser one-horned rhino (rhinoceros sondaicus) and the Sumatran or the Asian two-horned rhino (dicerorhinus sumatrensis).
The Javan and Sumatran rhinos are both listed as “critically endangered” on the IUCN red list of threatened species, while the greater one-horned rhino is listed as “vulnerable”. Currently, the total population of all three species is around 3,300.
From India, officials and ministers from Assam, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will attend the meeting, which will review the status and trends in the Asian rhino trade besides discussion and agreement on conservation priorities for each species. The participating countries will also provide the status of their rhino conservation.
A background note for the meeting said there has been significant success in efforts to increase the greater one-horned rhino population, which has the highest number among the three Asian rhinos. The success should inspire conservation efforts for other two species as well. “A high level of political commitment and the work of key, dedicated individuals, backed by systematic conservation action such as effective protection and re-introduction has resulted in the population increasing to 3,264 in the Terai arc landscape of India and Nepal, the grasslands of Assam and north Bengal, and adjacent Bhutan. Nevertheless, despite this important achievement, poaching, habitat loss and degradation remain continuous threats,” the note said.
Sources said though the numbers of the greater one-horned rhino are increasing, poaching in Assam’s Kaziranga and other rhino habitats are still a concern.
An official said since threats and challenges were common across the rhino range states and the Asian rhino population straddled national boundaries, a strong commitment, networking and collaboration among the range countries was required.
“Networking and political commitment are needed to engage stakeholders to support the recovery of Asian rhinos and work towards the re-introduction of rhinos to their historic ranges,” he said.