Public Events

17 Dec 2014

The Near Extinction of the Sumatran Rhino


This talk was recorded on Wed 7 December 2014 at The University of Nottingham Kuala Lumpur Teaching Centre, Level 2, Chulan Tower, No 3 Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur.


Dr. Junaidi (John) Payne

John Payne is a British permanent resident of Sabah, Malaysia, since 1979, currently executive director of Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to preventing the extinction of the Sumatran rhino. He helped conduct the first State-wide survey of wildlife in Sabah, 1979-81, and then was State-level head of WWF Malaysia 1982-98. Apart from Sabah, he has lived in Peninsular Malaysia and South Kalimantan, and has over 25,000 hours living in forest camps conducting wildlife and vegetation surveys. He is author or co-author of 7 books, including A Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo (1985) and Orang-utans (2008), which draws attention to the potential role of the palm oil industry in conservation of the species. He is active in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), believing that the nation state and united nations models of governance alone are inadequate to address the multiple challenges now facing nature conservation.

Seminar Summary

The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) was known to be close to extinction by the 1960s, and one of the rarest species in Malaysia at that time. Species in that situation need bold, targeted and urgent action. Even following an IUCN convened meeting in Singapore in 1984, the response both globally and in Malaysia remained far too weak, and several wrong decisions were made. A similar gathering of interested parties in 2013 has generated the right decisions and action in Malaysia, but an almost total lack of interest elsewhere, including in Indonesia. Why? Various reasons are outlined in this presentation, with the major one being a characteristic human tendency to keep on doing the same thing again and again, and hope for a better result. This presentation argues that the Sumatran rhino will go extinct – unless Malaysia and Indonesia collaborate to boost production of rhino embryos as soon as possible, before the last few remaining fertile females die of old age or reproductive tract pathology.