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Sumatran Elephants Listed as Critically Endangered

It’s the one list where conservationists don’t want to see species move up the ranks.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species moved the Sumatran elephant from “endangered” to “critically endangered.” Nearly 70% of its habitat and half of its population have been lost in one generation.

In order to save this critically endangered species, WWF is calling for an immediate stop to the clearing of forests for conversion to plantations on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Did you know?

  • The Asian elephant subspecies Elephas maximus sumatranus is only found in Sumatra, Indonesia
  • There are 2,400 - 2,800 individuals left in the wild, which is about 50% of the population in 1985
  • Sumatran elephants could be extinct in the wild in less than 30 years if current trends continue
  • Their decline is largely due to habitat loss

No place like home
Sumatra has experienced perhaps the most rapid deforestation within the Asian elephant’s range. Over two-thirds of its natural lowland forest has been razed in the past 25 years. This has resulted in local extinctions of elephants in many areas.

In the Riau province, pulp and paper industries and oil palm plantations have caused some of the world’s most rapid rates of deforestation. Elephant numbers have declined by a staggering 80% in less than 25 years, confining some herds to small forest patches. These populations are not likely to survive in the long-term.

The Lampung province has seen its number of elephant herds decline from twelve in the 1980s to only three by 2002 as a result of forest loss.  Just two of the remaining herds are considered biologically viable.

Joining forces to save elephants
WWF is calling on the Indonesian government to prohibit all forest conversion in elephant habitats until there is a conservation strategy to save the species. We recommend that large habitat patches be assessed and designated protected areas. Smaller habitat areas should be linked by conservation corridors and areas of possible habitat expansion or restoration explored.  

Don’t flush away their future
Did you know that the fastest-growing brand of toilet paper in the United States today, Paseo, has a direct link to Sumatran elephants, tigers and rhinos?

Paseo toilet paper and tissue products are made from pulp from the Sinar Mas Group’s Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which has cleared more Sumatran forests than any other company. WWF estimates that over the past 25 years, APP, its affiliates and suppliers have clear-cut 5 million acres of Sumatran forest wood. Much of that land was once tiger and elephant habitat.

Let your choices do the talking:

  • Don’t buy Paseo products and ask your grocery store not to carry them until APP changes its deforestation practices.
  • Sign a pledge to buy FSC-certified paper or products with 100% recycled content.
  • Ask grocers, retailers, hotels, and restaurants if they know the forest source of the products they carry, have a responsible paper-sourcing policy, and if they will carry more FSC-certified and recycled-fiber paper products.

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