News / Asia

Sumatran Elephants Join Critically Endangered Species List

A Sumatran elephant is seen in Perawang, Riau province, Indonesia, January 12, 2012.
A Sumatran elephant is seen in Perawang, Riau province, Indonesia, January 12, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Brian Padden

The World Wildlife Fund announced Tuesday that Indonesia's Sumatran elephant is now facing a greater risk of extinction and that its status has been changed from "endangered" to "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The elephant's shrinking population is caused, in large part, to the conversion of its forest habitat to agricultural plantations.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains the world’s most comprehensive inventory of biological species, says there are only about 2,400 to 2,800 of Sumatran elephants remaining in the wild. This is about a 50 percent drop in numbers from a count in 1985. The drastic population reduction, combined with a 70 percent loss of its natural forest habitat, prompted the organization to move the Sumatran elephant subspecies to the 'Red List' of threatened species.

The World Wildlife Fund points to Sumatra's rapid deforestation rate as the main cause for the increased threat to the elephants.

Two-thirds of Sumatra's forests have been cleared in the past 25 years to make way for lucrative palm oil plantations. World Wildlife Fund elephant and tiger monitoring coordinator Sunarto says the most suitable habitat for elephants is also the most sought after land for palm oil production.

"Elephant habitat happens to be very strictly competing with the need for oil palm because elephants live mainly in the wet, lowland areas where [they are] exactly considered very good for planting oil palm," he said.

Sunarto says, although Indonesia has designated the Sumatran elephant a protected species, little is being done to protect its habitats.

The World Wildlife Fund has called for an immediate moratorium on habitat conversion.

In 2011, the Indonesian government enacted a two-year moratorium on the development of new forest land, as part of a $1billion-deal with Norway to protect forests and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But Sunarto says, so far, the moratorium has not slowed the rate of deforestation in Sumatra.

Rather than banning development, he says a new financial incentive program being offered by the government may prove a more effective approach to conservation.

"The government has recently allowed companies to have restoration areas instead of logging concessions for some remaining forest area, so those kind of initiatives can be done by companies where they can also still make profit and at the same time also have the recovery of the endangered species," said Sunarto.

The Sumatran elephant joins the Sumatran orangutan, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos and the Sumatran tiger on a growing list of critically endangered species found in Indonesia. Scientists say if the current trend of forest conversion continues, Sumatran elephants could be extinct in the wild in less than 30 years.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid