The World Wildlife Fund ( WWF ) Indonesia monitoring team found fresh rhino-like trails while monitoring orangutan activity in Kutai Barat, East Kalimantan. To confirm the finding, WWF-Indonesia in cooperation with the Kutai Barat administration’s forestry department, University of Mulawarman and local residents conducted a follow-up survey in February.
“The survey team found several rhino foot trails, mud holes, traces of rhino-rubbed trees, traces of rhino horns on the walls of mud holes and rhino teeth marks on small branches,” said WWF-Indonesia in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
During the expedition, the survey team also identified more than 30 species of plants that rhinos eat.
Scientific confirmation by Chandradewana Boer, a rhino specialist from East Kalimantan’s University of Mulawarman, and several other experts stated that the species was most likely to be that of the Sumatran rhinoceros. The survey finding was also supported by documented data on the history of the spread of Sumatran rhinoceros in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo.
Sumatran rhinoceros had been thought to be extinct in Borneo since the 1990s. The International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ) classifies Sumatran rhinoceros as a critically endangered species.
WWF Indonesia conservation director Nazir Foead said WWF-Indonesia and other institutions would conduct a more comprehensive survey to map out the habitat preference and population of rhinos in Kutai Barat.
He said the finding was especially important after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared 2012 the International Year of the Rhino.