Way Kambas ’93: Southampton University expedition to Sumatra, Indonesia

Colin McHenry

An ecological survey of Way Kambas to establish whether this is a suitable refuge and alternative habitat for a breeding nucleus of endangered Javan rhioceros to be translocated from Ujung Kulon National Park, Java. Major habitat types will be mapped using GPS survey to establish that the requisite food plants are present, and identify any resident animal species that might threaten the rhinos. The data collected will also be of use in the development of conservation strategies for the area.

Project update: 21/8/96 The Way Kambas National Park in southern Sumatra is an important area for the survival of a number of threatened species, including Asian Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Tiger, Clouded Leopard, White-winged Wood-duck, Pangolin, Tapir, Sunbear and Wild Dog. From 1993-1995, a British-Indonesian team conducted a survey of the Sumatran Rhino and Asian Elephant populations in the Park. By December 1994, 400 km² had been surveyed, with the support of a BP runner-up award in 1993 and a follow-up award in 1994. Fieldwork continued into 1995. Elephant density and population size were 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 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 aimed at reducing 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. The expedition leader continued her involvement following the projects.

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