Jakarta - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has launched the International Rhino Year 2012 in a bid to mobilise global efforts to conserve and protect the wild animal from extinction.
"The International Rhino Year is meant to provide momentum and access for increasing international cooperation in the conservation of rhinos in our country," he said at the state palace here on Tuesday.
President Yudhoyono ordered the responsible cabinet ministers to make the campaign a success by involving community members in the effort.
"Make rhino conservation part of promoting our reputation as one of the global leaders of green economic development," he said.
The launching of the International Rhino Year 2012 is part of a mandate from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is supported by 11 countries that have rhino population, including Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Zimbabwe and Malaysia.
After a meeting with forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan, the chief of the IUCN's Commission for Species Conservation, Simon Stuart, said Indonesia had been chosen to host the launching of the International Rhino Year because it was home to two of the rarest rhino species: the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) and the Javanese rhino (Rhinoceror sondaicus).
There are five rhino species in the world right now: Sumatran rhino, Javanese rhino, Indian rhino (in Nepal, India and Bhutan), white rhino (Botswana, Ivory Coast, Congo, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe), and black rhino (Cameron, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana).
The number of Javanese rhinos, based on camera records, in Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java is now 35. Indonesia is the only country that has the Javanese rhino, after the species was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011.
Meanwhile, the number of Sumatran rhinos is recorded at around 200, distributed between the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung and Leuser National Park in Aceh province.
Indonesia is now awaiting the birth of a Sumatran rhino in July.
According to available data, the population of Indian rhino has increased to 2,913 after having dropped to 600 in 1975, while there 20,140 white rhinos now, ten times more than the 2,000 recorded in 1960. The number of black rhinos has also increased from 2,475 in 1993 to 4,838 in 2012.
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