Way Kambas elephant and rhino survey, Indonesia 1994

Joanna Riley

From 1993-95 a British-Indonesian team conducted a survey of the Sumatran Rhino and Asian Elephant populations in Way Kambas National Park on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. By December 1994 a total of 400 sq. km had been surveyed and fieldwork continued into 1995. Elephant density and population size was calculated through an analysis of dung density/decay rate/defecation rate. Preliminary calculations indicate a population of 250-300, approximately twice that predicted. Information was also collected - primarily from tracks - on the distribution, population and demographic structure of the rhino in the park. At least three individual rhino were known to be present. The rhino population was considered to be the most secure on the island. The elephant data will help formulate effective management plans aiming to reduce the impact of elephants on croplands. Two Indonesian counterparts were trained in censusing techniques with the intention of them conducting similar surveys in the future in Way Kambas and elsewhere.

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