FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The International conservation community was devastated last week to learn of Julia Bishop’s axing of a 3 million dollar pledge to assist Indonesia with the conservation of one of the most endangered large mammals on earth.
With the global number of Sumatran rhino now believed to be less than 100, this crucial funding was in response to a request for urgent assistance from President Yudoyono. In June 2013, Senator Bob Carr announced that the Australian Government would support Indonesia in their mission to save the rhino from extinction, pledging 3 million over 3 years.
In parliament on Tuesday, Julia Bishop announced that the Sumatran rhino conservation program was ‘a lovely project for the World Wildlife Foundation but not for the Australian aid budget’.
Wildlife Asia Director, Clare Campbell, commented ‘Non Government Organisation’s like Wildlife Asia and WWF most definitely play a significant role in ensuring the protection of wildlife and habitat, largely thanks to generous private and corporate donors who are able to recognise the importance of preserving our future. Whilst the Australian Government may not currently acknowledge this priority, the consequences of the current destruction of wildlife and forests in Indonesia will eventually create significant burden for Australia. We need leaders with the capacity to see beyond our borders, holistically, not purely in terms of economic value’.
Ms Campbell also noted ‘The Coalitions approach to focus on economic growth is short-sighted and incredibly dangerous. The failure to acknowledge the equal importance of environmental preservation in rapidly developing countries like Indonesia will have dire consequences’.
With significant setbacks in relations between Australian and Indonesia at the hands of the Abbott government, as well as several decisions threatening the environment both within Australia and overseas there is rising dissidence amongst the Australian public. ‘The decision to scrap the Sumatran rhino funding is very much seen as an indicator of our governments’ lack of concern for issues relating to wildlife and environmental protection’, said Ms Campbell.
Existing and planned strategies to protect and expand the Sumatran rhino population are now under serious threat as a direct result of this funding cut. The Indonesian government and NGO partners were depending on this funding support to implement new initiatives expected to bring this species back from the brink.
With an immediate shortage in funding, Wildlife Asia encourages direct donations to allow the Rhino Protection Units to maintain their efforts to protect the rhino populations.
Clare Campbell, Director-Wildlife Asia
Ph. 0438 992 325