Their pictures and other observations are reported in the current issue of Oryx, The International Journal of Conservation. The rare rabbit was first photographed in Kerinci Seblat National Park in 1998 and has rarely been seen since.
“Whether the rabbit does occur undetected in other parks is not certain, but the importance of protecting these two known strongholds of the species is critical,” say McCarthy and colleagues. “As the human population of Sumatra rises, both parks are increasingly threatened by encroachment of villages and development of roads and infrastructure. It is important to focus conservation efforts in these areas to prevent a loss of what could be the final two populations of Sumatran striped rabbits.”
Sumatra’s Bukit Barisan Mountains, where the rabbits were captured on film, form the rugged backbone of the sixth largest island in the world. Since 2008, McCarthy and Fuller have been conducting an ecological study of the clouded leopard, Asiatic golden cat, marbled cat and leopard cats in Indonesia’s Bukit Barisan Seletan National Park.
McCarthy says, “As part of my dissertation research on the four felids, or cats, we also happened to get pictures of this very rare rabbit. There had been a few camera-trap photos seen of it before, but very, very rarely. We wanted to take these observations a step further, so we worked with colleagues from the University of Delaware and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Indonesia Program to contact every researcher we knew throughout Sumatra who was doing camera-trap research, probably 20 or 30 people. This gave us good coverage of the island.”
“We asked them about sightings of the Sumatran striped rabbit and report the results in our paper.” Overall, the conservation biologist adds, “The biggest news is that we only received recent sighting information from these two parks. For the first time, we can pinpoint that these two areas may be the only ones remaining where this species occurs. We can’t say they don’t occur elsewhere, but we are saying it’s important to preserve those areas in order to save the species.”
Habitats critical to many forms of wildlife in the parks face constant pressure from nearby coffee and palm oil plantations and from those who want logging roads built, she adds. Roads would not only destroy habitat but would allow humans, including poachers, access into relatively wild and remote places. In Sumatra between 2000 and 2009, more than 7.6 million acres (3.1 million hectares) of forest were lost to such encroachment, McCarthy says.
Much of her work was done at fairly high altitudes, in dense rainforest and rugged terrain, along volcanic ridges up to 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) high, where human encroachment is low, McCarthy says. The area has a relatively high density of wildlife, including tigers, so the investigators never travel alone and always have a park ranger with them. After walking miles to visit their cameras and snares, they roll out their sleeping bags in local villages as guests of families with no electricity, running water or modern plumbing.
McCarthy says, “It’s such a beautiful place. I hope we are able to increase conservation initiatives. At this point we really need to increase the involvement of local people in order to save these areas. There is some appreciation of the value of wildlife, especially for the tiger. But the root of the problem, the loss of habitat, hasn’t really slowed down. We feel our presence and the fact that our research supports a park ranger has helped to make a difference.”
In addition to UMass Amherst, this study was conducted with support from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the Panthera Foundation, University of Delaware, the Small Cat Conservation Fund, the Cat Action Treasury, Idea Wild and the Clouded Leopard Project.Jennifer McCarthy
Jennifer McCarthy | Newswise Science News
Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta
Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy