Will Sumatra s elephants go extinct

Purchase of 110,000-acre rainforest concession marks major conservation victory for Sumatran Elephants, Tigers, and Orangutans

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WARRENTON, VA – August 12, 2015 –Two large forestry concessions totaling 110,011 acres that will be used to protect one of the world’s most imperiled elephant populations have been announced today, World Elephant Day, by Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving threatened lands and endangered species, and its Sumatran conservation partner Yayasan Konservasi Ekosistem Hutan Sumatera (KEHUS).

The concessions will provide critical protection for many endangered species in the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem found on the Indonesia island of Sumatra. The area is home to over 59 species of mammals and 192 species of birds. Critically Endangered species include Sumatran Elephants, Sumatran Tigers and Sumatran Orangutans; Threatened species include Clouded Leopards and Sun Bears.

The flat, lowland habitat protected within the concessions is especially valuable for Sumatra’s remaining elephant population. Many of Sumatra’s existing protected areas are located in mountainous areas that require elephants to exert an unsustainable amount of energy foraging.

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“If elephants have to live in hills within a national park they will simply starve to death,” said Leif Cocks, President of KEHUS. “Unless we can save low-lying habitat, Sumatra’s elephants will certainly go extinct.”

In the last 25 years, Sumatran Elephants have lost more than two-thirds of their lowland forest. The loss of so much habitat, coupled with human-elephant conflicts, has cut the elephant population in half within the lifetime of a single generation.

As recently as the 1950s, the island nation of Indonesia was covered with dense rainforest. Now, just half of this tropical forest remains. Nowhere is this rapid deforestation more apparent in Indonesia than on the island of Sumatra. Every minute, a forested area the size of five football fields is cleared to make way for paper, rubber and palm oil plantations.

This purchase marks a major achievement in Rainforest Trust’s larger plans to protect over 200,000 acres – an area larger than 151,000 football fields – through the purchase of three 60-year Ecosystem Restoration Concessions. With the support of Rainforest Trust, KEHUS plans to convert these concessions into wildlife reserves.

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“Sumatra has reached a tipping point in the fight to save its wildlife. Without adequate protection, many of the planet’s most iconic species face an uncertain future,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “This new purchase is a major step in the right direction. It demonstrates that concrete land protection can still be achieved in Sumatra in an economical and effective way.”

Rainforest Trust is committed to raising over $1.3 million and saving the final 90,384 acres needed to complete this project. Nearly 50 percent of the total funding goals have been met, and individual acres can be protected for only $3.41 thanks to a matching donation. To help Rainforest Trust meet their goal of saving 200,000 acres in Sumatra, please visit: https://www.rainforesttrust.org/project/saving-sumatras-rarest-wildlife/

Other conservation groups supporting this project include The Orangutan Project, World Wildlife Fund -Indonesia, and the Frankfurt Zoological Society.

In addition, Rainforest Trust would like to thank the following organizations and donors for their generous support: GreaterGood.org and The Rainforest Site, The Spurlino Foundation, Wallace Genetic Foundation, The Cornell Douglas Foundation, Geoffrey Chen and Angela Huang, Leslie Danoff and Larry Robbins, Keith Bradley, Brian Levy, Marc Weinberger.

Visit Rainforest Trust’s Flickr page to see more photos of the wildlife recently protected in Sumatra.

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Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 178 projects across 30 countries.

Yayasan Konservasi Ekosistem Hutan Sumatera (KEHUS) is an Indonesian Foundation, founded by an international team that includes members of The Orangutan Project, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and Indonesian conservationists. The goal of KEHUS is to enact genuine and meaningful conservation work in Sumatra to protect viable populations of wildlife and their habitat.

Media contacts:
Marc Ford, Rainforest Trust
[email protected]
1-800-456-4930

Samantha Cartagena, RF|Binder
[email protected]
212-994-7686