Rhinos in the parks: An island-wide survey of the last wild population of the Sumatran rhinoceros

Wulan Pusparini, Paul R. Sievert, Todd K. Fuller, Timothy O. Randhir, Noviar Andayani

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16 Citations (Scopus)


In the 200 years since the Sumatran rhinoceros was first scientifically described (Fisher 1814), the range of the species has contracted from a broad region in Southeast Asia to three areas on the island of Sumatra and one in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Assessing population and spatial distribution of this very rare species is challenging because of their elusiveness and very low population number. Using an occupancy model with spatial dependency, we assessed the fraction of the total landscape occupied by Sumatran rhinos over a 30,345-km2 survey area and the effects of covariates in the areas where they are known to occur. In the Leuser Landscape (surveyed in 2007), the model averaging result of conditional occupancy estimate was ψ;(SE-ψ ) = 0:151(0:109+ or 2,371.47 km2, and the model averaging result of replicated level detection probability p(SE-p) = 0:252(0:267+; inWay Kambas National Park-2008: ψ (SE-ψ) = 0:468(0:165+ or 634.18 km2, and p(SE-p) = 0:138(0:571+; and in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park-2010: ψ (SE-ψ) = 0:322(0:049+ or 819.67 km2, and p(SE-p) = 0:365(0:42+. In the Leuser Landscape, rhino occurrence was positively associated with primary dry land forest and rivers, and negatively associated with the presence of a road. InWay Kambas, occurrence was negatively associated with the presence of a road. In Bukit Barisan Selatan, occurrence was negatively associated with presence of primary dryland forest and rivers. Using the probabilities of site occupancy, we developed spatially explicit maps that can be used to outline intensive protection zones for in-situ conservation efforts, and provide a detailed assessment of conserving Sumatran rhinos in the wild. We summarize our core recommendation in four points: consolidate small population, strong protection, determine the percentage of breeding females, and recognize the cost of doing nothing. To reduce the probability of poaching, here we present only the randomized location of site level occupancy in our result while retaining the overall estimation of occupancy for a given area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0136643
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2015


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