The Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) expressed sadness over the death of the last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia, voicing its readiness to support intensified cooperation among Asean member-states on preventing the extinction of critically endangered species.
“Seeing the extinction of species before our eyes is a tragedy of our time. The extinction of Sumatran rhino population in Malaysia is a loss that reverberates, not just in the Asean region but throughout the globe,” ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim said.
This development took place following the death of the last female in captivity named “Iman” on November 23.
In Indonesia, an estimated 80 rhino individuals remains captive and in the wild.
“While there are various species conservation programs being implemented to protect remaining populations of critically endangered species, there is a greater need for an increased strategic collaboration among Asean member-states, particularly on sharing resources to ensure continued viable populations of species,” Lim said.
She added that extinctions can be prevented in many ways, among them is protecting their known habitat, through exchange of knowledge and expertise, well-maintained and equipped captive breeding centers and well-funded species-specific conservation programs.
Besides poaching and habitat loss, studies show that isolation is among the biggest threats to Sumatran rhino populations, as they have a very unique reproductive behavior.
Females of this species are known to develop complications in their reproductive systems if they go too long without mating.
Along with captive breeding, the establishment of effectively managed protected areas is also a strategy for wildlife protection, the ACB executive director said.
“The Asean region is host to mega-diverse countries, and this brings with it the responsibility of addressing the challenges of wildlife depletion and extinctions. ACB, as the Asean regional intergovernmental organization, is committed to facilitate and support the Asean member-states in collaboration to prevent biodiversity loss in the region,” Lim said.
Iman’s passing happened on the eve of the 23rd meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-23), where parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, including the Asean member-states, lay the groundwork and prepare for the ambitious and effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
This framework is aligned with the Aichi Biodiversity Target 12, which calls for the prevention of extinction of known threatened species and the improvement of their conservation status.
“We should not lose hope because there are certainly successful conservation programs in the Asean. Nevertheless, the death of Iman serves as our wake-up call,” Lim said.
Image credits: ACB