January 24, 2012
Sumatran Elephant May Be Extinct In 30 Years
The Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWF) said on Tuesday that the Sumatran elephant could be extinct in the wild in the next 30 years.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) raised its listing of the Sumatran elephant subspecies from "endangered" to "critically endangered".
"The Sumatran elephant joins a growing list of Indonesian species that are critically endangered, including the Sumatran orangutan, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos and the Sumatran tiger," Carlos Drews, Director of WWF's Global Species Programme, said in a statement.
"Unless urgent and effecting conservation action is taken these magnificent animals are likely to go extinct within our lifetime."
WWF estimates that there are only about 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants still alive in the wild, which is down about 50 percent from a 1985 estimate.
The environmental group said the situation is particularly critical in central Sumatra's Riau Province, which is where deforestation has dropped the elephant population by 80 percent in the past 25 years.
"Forest concession holders such as pulp and paper companies and the palm oil industry have a legal and ethical obligation to protect endangered species within their concessions," Anwar Puroto of WWF-Indonesia said in a statement.
WWF said the Lampung province has seen its number of elephant herds decline from twelve in the 1980s to only three by 2002 as a result of habitat loss. It added that only two of the remaining herds are considered biologically viable.
The group recommends that, "large habitat patches be assessed and designated protected areas."
"Smaller habitat areas should be linked by conservation corridors and areas of possible habitat expansion or restoration explored," WWF said.
WWF also said that Paseo toilet paper and tissue products are made from pulp from the Sinar Mas Group's Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). This product has helped clear more Sumatran forests than any other company, according to the group's statement.
"WWF estimates that over the past 25 years, APP, its affiliates and suppliers have clear-cut 5 million acres of Sumatran forest wood. Much of that land was once tiger and elephant habitat."
It said U.S. citizens can help play their role in stopping deforestation of the Sumatran elephant's habitat by not buying Paseo products.
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