Gland, Switzerland, 5 June, 2012 (IUCN) — Increasing alarm for the fate of the two rarest rhinoceros species, and growing concern over the increased illegal hunting of rhinos and demand for rhino horn affecting all five species, has prompted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia to declare 5 June 2012 as the start of the International Year of the Rhino. President Yudhoyono took this step at the request of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and other conservation organisations, because the future survival of both the Javan and Sumatran Rhinos depends on effective conservation action in Indonesia.

The government of Indonesia has also made commitments to establish a high-level rhino task force of national and international experts; allocate sufficient resources to enforce protection of remaining rhino populations, and ensure that there is regular and intensive monitoring of all rhino populations in Indonesia.

In the last decade, two rhino subspecies, the Western Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis longipes) in Cameroon and the Indochinese Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) in Vietnam have gone extinct. Today, the populations of two more subspecies, the Northern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) and the mainland population of the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis lasiotus), both listed as Critically Endangered on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, are perilously close to extinction because of an increase in illegal hunting and non-traditional use of rhino horn.

“One of the programs of the Ministry of Forestry is the protection of endangered animals, such as rhinos, tigers, elephants and orangutans,” says Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Forestry, Indonesia. “Among those, the rhinos are closest to extinction. For this reason they need special attention from all of us. In this context, we are inviting and encouraging all stakeholders and world organizations to join the effort to save the rhinos.”

During this International Year of the Rhino, it is hoped that all rhino range states in Africa and Asia will join Indonesia and give priority to securing their rhino populations. There are ambitions to bring illegal hunting and trade, especially the illegal trade of rhino horn, under control by ensuring that effective deterrents are in place and enforced. It is also hoped that measures that encourage a rapid growth in rhino numbers will be taken. In Indonesia, extra action will be taken to translocate isolated individuals to actively managed protected areas and improve rhino habitats by removing invasive plant species and providing additional sources of water.

"We warmly welcome the announcement of the International Year of the Rhino by the President of Indonesia and the related commitments that have been made,” says John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES. “Strong and clear political messages from the highest possible levels are required to combat the illegal killing and trade in rhino and the message coming from the President is loud and clear. We hope that this bold initiative by Indonesia will serve as a catalyst for further high-level political support and commitments to protect the rhino in the wild across all concerned States"

Effective conservation by governments in Africa and Asia, in some cases with the support of non-governmental conservation organizations, has been successful in bringing back the Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum), Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) from the brink of extinction. It is clear that highly-focused management and improved conservation measures can lead to increases in the populations of rhinos, and it is now urgent that this is also implemented for the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, as the Indonesian President has stated.

“We congratulate President Yudhoyono of Indonesia for his commitment to rhino conservation,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “In announcing the International Year of the Rhino, Indonesia is encouraging the government engagement and public awareness that is essential for effective conservation. We urge all rhino range states, as well as the counties in which there is demand for rhino horn, to participate in this initiative.”

The urgent measures needed to ensure the effective conservation of the world’s five rhino species will be discussed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea, from 6 to 15 September 2012.

Quotes from supporting organisations:

IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group
“We commend the rhino range states in Africa and Asia that have taken strong measures to conserve remaining rhinos, and consequently increased some rhino populations,” says Mike Knight, Chair of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group. “It is our hope that all rhino range states will join Indonesia and take advantage of the International Year of the Rhino by giving priority to securing their rhino populations and repeating the success that has previously been achieved by others.”

IUCN SSC Asian Rhino Specialist Group
“Two subspecies of rhino have already been lost and it is essential that no full rhino species become condemned to the same fate,” says Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, Chair of the IUCN SSC Asian Rhino Specialist Group. “The two rhinoceros species closest to extinction are the Javan and Sumatran Rhinos, numbering less than 50 and 200 animals respectively, with populations of both thought to be in decline. Rhinos have a significant and important role in the culture of many societies and the extinction of any rhino species is a loss to our cultural heritage as well as our planet’s biological diversity.”

IUCN Southeast Asia Group
“Saving Rhinos requires protecting their habitat from further fragmentation and degradation, and dealing effectively with illegal wildlife trade,” says Robert Mather, Head, Southeast Asia Group, IUCN. “Both actions will also benefit hundreds of other species sharing the forest with the Rhinos as well as tens of thousands of people who are supported by the ecosystem services generated by the Rhinos forest home.”

Endangered Wildlife Trust
“The rhino poaching crisis has demonstrated that there is no single solution to addressing illegal wildlife trade, which is an increasing global phenomenon,” says Yolan Friedmann, CEO, Endangered Wildlife Trust. “Estimated to be the third largest form of illegal trade, after drugs and human trafficking, wildlife trade often has its roots in organised, trans-boundary crime. For this reason a multi-pronged approach involving the collaboration and cooperation of a diverse range of partners is critical. The Endangered Wildlife Trust is proud to be working with the group of organisations that has called for international recognition of this crisis and the acknowledgement of the plight of the rhino through declaring 2012 as the start of the International Year of the Rhino. We hope that this will elevate rhino conservation and the illegal trade in rhino horn to a global priority and ramp up efforts to stem the poaching of rhino.”

Indonesia Zoos Association (PKBSI)
“Indonesia Zoos Association proudly support the announcement of the International Year of the Rhino 2012 by the President of Indonesia Dr.H. Soesilo Bambang Yodhoyono,” says Dr Rahmat Shah, Chairman, Indonesia Zoos Association. “We thank IUCN and other rhino range countries for their support to make it happen. Indonesian zoos will continue its support with other institutions and government agencies in rhino conservation programmes in ex-situ or in-situ. The zoos will provide their expertises, knowledge and skills through a captive breeding of Sumatran rhino in Way Kambas National park and help to set up a second habitat for the Javan rhino and protect Sumatran rhino habitats in Sumatra. Zoos in Indonesia will continue their education and public awareness programes to send the messages across to save rhino species in captivity or in the wild.”

International Rhino Foundation
“Sumatran and Javan rhinos are among the most threatened species on Earth,” says Dr. Susie Ellis, Executive Director, International Rhino Foundation. “Unprecedented threats such as habitat loss and poaching have pushed these species, which have walked the Earth for more than 50 million years, towards a very real probability of extinction within our lifetime. There must be concerted efforts among governments of range and consumer countries, such as Vietnam and China, to enforce laws and international treaties in order to stem this tide. We applaud President Yudhoyono for this call to action which we hope will help to ensure the survival of these magnificent animals for future generations.”

Rhino Foundation of Indonesia
“Yayasan Badak Indonesia (Rhino Foundation of Indonesia) is deeply appreciative of support from the Government of Indonesia, the International Rhino Foundation, the private sector and other NGOs for supporting rhino protection, propagation and habitat management,” says Widodo S. Ramono, Director, Yayasan Badak Indonesia. “Thanks to the IUCN’s strong support as well as that of its members, the President is demonstrating his strong commitment for rhino conservation by declaring the International Year of the Rhino. We must remain focused on the glimmers of hope as we move forward in ensuring that poaching is stopped, that more rhino young are produced and detected, and that habitat for rhino and other threatened species is reclaimed and managed. Yayasan Badak Indonesia is fully committed to strengthening those efforts, with the full support of government and other partners to turn back the tide of extinction facing our rhinos.”

Save the Rhino International
“The International Year of the Rhino has come at a critical time for all rhino species as they struggle for their very survival more so now than ever,” says Susie Offord, Deputy Director, Save the Rhino International. “We hope that through making this year the ‘Year of the Rhino’, it will inspire both the range countries where rhinos live and the countries where rhino horn is being bought, to take more action to protect these unique animals. This year could become the turning point when rhino conservation starts to win the battle and secures these amazing animals’ survival for future generations to enjoy.”

"The dramatic surge in rhino poaching we are seeing now is linked with increased demand for rhino horn in Asia, particularly among wealthy elites and business people in Vietnam, where it carries prestige as a luxury item, as a post-partying cleanser, and also as a purported cancer cure," warned Tom Milliken, the rhino trade expert for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. “It is critical that Africa’s law enforcement efforts are significantly scaled up and linked with enforcement and demand reduction efforts in consumer markets in Asia. We’ll only win this war if both sides align against the criminal syndicates behind this trade.”

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

"The future of rhinos on our planet depends on our immediate actions," said Dr. John Robinson, Executive Vice President of Conservation and Science of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Full protection of remaining wild populations of all rhino species is essential and we must end the trade of their horns. WCS congratulates President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia for his leadership and urges the global community to respond to his call for action to ensure that these magnificent species have a future."

"WWF offers its full support for the commitment made by Indonesia's president to secure a future for the country's critically endangered rhinos,” says Dr Efransjah, CEO of WWF-Indonesia. “There is an urgent need to decrease pressures on habitats and to establish a second Javan rhino population in a safer and suitable location. This will be a big endeavor that will require true leadership from government and critical partnerships among scientists, conservation organizations and local communities.”

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Notes to editors:
For more information or to schedule interviews please contact:
Maggie Roth, IUCN Media Relations, m +1 202 262 5313, e
Lynne Labanne, IUCN Species Programme Communications Officer, IUCN, t +41 22 999 0153, m +41 79 527 7221, e

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About IUCN
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.

About the Species Survival Commission
The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest of IUCN’s six volunteer commissions with a global membership of around 7,500 experts. SSC advises IUCN and its members on the wide range of technical and scientific aspects of species conservation, and is dedicated to securing a future for biodiversity. SSC has significant input into the international agreements dealing with biodiversity conservation.

About Endangered Wildlife Trust
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is dedicated to conserving threatened species and ecosystems in southern Africa to the benefit of all people. Our Vision is a healthy planet and an equitable world that values and sustains diversity of all life. The EWT was established in 1973 and is registered as a Non-Profit Organisation. The EWT fills the key niche of on the ground conservation action. We identify the key factors threatening biodiversity and develop innovative methodologies and best practice guidelines to reduce these and promote harmonious co-existence and sustainable living for both people and wildlife. We achieve our goals through specialist programmes, and our skilled field staff are deployed regionally and throughout southern Africa. The EWT is a proud member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the United Nations Global Compact. Visit for further information.

About the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia
Yayasan Badak Indonesia or the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia (RFI) is a Non-Profit; Non-Governmental Organisation dedicated to the conservation of the rhinos in Indonesia namely the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). YABI was established and inaugurated on December 28th, 2006 based on Notary Act No. 34 and legalized by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights on March 20th, 2007. YABI’s vision is to ensure continuous living populations of Javan and Sumatran rhinos in a safe, sustainable habitat.

About the Indonesia Zoo Association
Indonesia Zoo Association or PKBSI (Perhimpunan Kebun Binatang Se Indonesia) was established on the 5th of November 1969 by several zoo directors that were concerned about the management of zoos within Indonesia. There are 43 zoos including well established and small zoos who are members. It is a Non-Profit Organization. As member of WAZA and SEAZA, zoos and aquarium in Indonesia began to realize their potential as a positive and influential force for conservation of wildlife. By the 1980s PKBSI had not only strengthened their animal welfare issue but increasingly included conservation as part of the zoos overall mission.

Indonesia Zoo Association and its members have cooperated with the Ministry of Forestry to establish; an Elephant Conservation Center in Sumatra Island; a Sumatran Tiger Rescue Center and Ex-situ Tiger Conservation Center at Taman Safari Indonesia, Bogor; and setup a Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park, Lampung. PKBSI also worked jointly with other conservation agencies and government institutions to establish APCB (Bali Mynah Conservation Society) to increase the population of Bali mynah in captivity and reintroduce them in Bali Barat National Park, Bali. PKBSI with its zoo members and other wildlife institutions are working hand in hand to solve the human and wildlife conflict by relocating conflict tigers to better habitats in the wild.
For more detail, visit

About International Rhino Foundation
The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is a global not-for-profit organization dedicated to the survival of the world’s rhino species through conservation and research, and increasing awareness about the plight of the rhino. IRF funds and operates rhino conservation programs in Africa and Asia. To learn more about the IRF, visit

About the Ministry of Forestry, Indonesia
The Ministry of Forestry has the mandate to manage all state forest in Indonesia, as well as the protection of biodiversity and natural resources. We do so through a network of 50 national parks and many other different types of conservation areas covering a total of 26 million hectares of pristine ecosystems.

About Save the Rhino International
Save the Rhino International (SRI) is a UK charity, registered in 1994, that works to conserve viable populations of critically endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia. SRI recognises that the future of wildlife is inextricably linked to the communities that share its habitat. By funding field projects and through education, their goal is to deliver material, long-lasting and widespread benefits to rhinos and other endangered species, ecosystems and to the people living in these areas.

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. It is the joint wildlife trade programme of IUCN and WWF, and works in more than 20 locations worldwide. For more information, please visit

About the Wildlife Conservation Society
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.