AMHERST, Mass. Using camera traps, wildlife researchers including doctoral candidate Jennifer McCarthy and environmental conservation professor Todd Fuller of the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently captured photographs of one of the rarest animals on earth, the Sumatran striped rabbit. They say it may now be found only in two remote national parks on the Indonesian island.
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,
|Contact: Janet Lathrop|
University of Massachusetts at Amherst