Current Distribution of Tomistoma schlegelii
SUMMARY OF DISTRIBUTION
Countries where present
Indonesia (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java), Malaysia (Sarawak, Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia)
Current presence unconfirmed
Countries where likely extirpated
Vietnam, Thailand (none seen since 1970s)
ACCURACY OF DATA
Distribution is based on available data, last updated September 2012. Data on this species are sparse. Dark green areas are based on known localities (Steubing et al. 2006), including recent attack and capture locations (based on Indonesian newspaper articles). Since the species appears to be widespread but in very low densities throughout eastern Sumatra, we have chosen to make the entire area from the Rokan River of Riau south to northern Lampung as potentially containing Tomistoma. The light green represents areas from which Tomistoma have been reported in the past or areas from which no surveys have been conducted and thus status is uncertain. For example, it is possible that some Tomistoma remain along the Kapuas River in West Kalimantan, but we simply don't know. It appears as though the Tomistoma's reclusive behavior, combined with the difficulty of conducting surveys in its habitat, has made it challenging to accurately assess the status of the species throughout much of its range.
DETAILED DISTRIBUTION BY COUNTRY
Extant Tomistoma schlegelii populations have been confirmed from the lowland waterways of eastern Sumatra, portions of lowland Kalimantan and within Ujung Kulon National Park of Banten province in Java. There are unconfirmed reports from Sulawesi and there is no information regarding the current or historic presence of the species on Bangka or Belitung.
Within Sumatra the species was historically present from eastern Aceh province south to southern Lampung province and west to the base of the Barisan Mountain range. The species likely never occurred west of the Barisan Mountains along the western coast of Sumatra (Bengkulu and West Sumatra provinces), where only Crocodylus porosus is confirmed to exist (Bezuijen et al. 1997). Extant T. schlegelii populations are believed to be widespread in low densities throughout Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra (Stuebing et al. 2006) and known localities include the Merang River (South Sumatra), the Teso & Kubu Rivers (Riau) (Bezuijen et al. 1997) and within Berbak National Park (Jambi) (Stuebing et al. 2006). During 2010 a large Tomistoma was reportedly captured and killed within the Rokan River of Riau in response to a fatal attack on a human. Difficult survey conditions, such as extensive forest flooding, have hampered previous efforts to assess Tomistoma populations within Sumatra. While Way Kambas National Park within Lampung province was previously believed to hold an isolated Tomistoma population (Bezuijen et al. 1997), recent surveys have yielded no evidence of the species within suitable habitat. The species may be extinct within Aceh and North Sumatra, with no confirmed sightings since 1980 (Stuebing et al. 2006).
Within Kalimantan the species is currently known from portions of West, Central and East Kalimantan, while historical records exist for the species within South Kalimantan. It is believed that the destruction of suitable swamp habitat to make way for agricultural development is to blame for the disappearance of the species from South Kalimantan (Stuebing et al. 2006). Within Central Kalimantan the species is known from in and around Tanjung Puting National Park with high densities being confirmed from the Sekonyer Kanan River and occasionally predation by C. porosus has been reported (Auliya et al. 2006). In late 2008 two fatal attacks on humans were reported from Central Kalimantan; one of these attacks involved consumption of the human victim by a very large Tomistoma. One of the attacks occurred within the Kedipi River near Pangkalan Bun and the other near Pangkut. Within West Kalimantan the species has been confirmed from Danau Sentarum, Gunung Palung and Betung-Kerihun National Park; scattered populations likely exist elsewhere (Stuebing et al. 2006). Within East Kalimantan the species is currently found within the Mahakam River/Lakes, the Barito River (Stuebing et al. 2006) and Lake Mesangat (Agata Staniewicz pers. comm.). The species has also been reported but unconfirmed from the Sebuku River (Stuebing et al. 2006) and a fatal attack on a child was attributed to a Tomistoma within the upper Belayan River in 2010 (Rob Stuebing pers. comm.).
The status of the species on Java was relatively unknown until recently and even now very little is known regarding its historic distribution or population status. Surveys of Ujung Kulon National Park yielded a sighting of one adult Tomistoma and locals claim that the species is present within other areas of the park, including Panaitan Island (Auliya 2003). Although it appears as though a small Tomistoma population persists within the park, nothing else is known regarding the status of this species within Ujung Kulon. The Tomistoma is almost certainly extinct throughout the remainder of Java.
The present status of T. schlegelii within Malaysia is poorly known and populations are believed to be either depleted or extirpated in many areas. Tomistoma have been found within some of Sarawak's lowland waterways including upper tributaries of the Batang Lupar and Sadong Rivers, as well as the Baram River and other areas (Stuebing et al. 2006). The widespread destruction of Tomistoma habitat to make way for agricultural development is a major threat to the survival of the species within Sarawak (Stuebing et al. 2004). The status and even the presence of T. schlegelii within Sabah is unknown. Tomistoma have been sighted within the Klias River and the Kinabatangan River during the past decade, but no further information exists (Stuebing et al. 2004). The species likely persists in small numbers in certain portions of west and central Peninsular Malaysia. Most recent records have come from the Perak River system and locals claim that the species is still present within the adjacent Kinta River, but this has not been confirmed (Stuebing et al. 2006). The species was formerly present within the blackwater Tasek Bera of Pahang state but a survey during the late 1990s yielded no evidence of continued presence (Simpson et al. 1998). Within the past two decades there have also been reports of Tomistoma from the northeastern state of Terengganu and from Selangor swamp on the west coast, but nothing definitive (Stuebing et al. 2004). It appears as though the Tomistoma's reclusive behavior, combined with the difficulty of conducting surveys in its habitat, has made it challenging to accurately assess the status of the species throughout much of its range.
Until relatively recently evidence of T. schlegelii within Brunei was limited to secondhand sightings (Stuebing et al. 2006). However, in 2005 a local expat photographed a wild Tomistoma on the Tutong River that drains a peat swamp in eastern Brunei (Bezuijen et al. 2010) and showed this to Rob Stuebing, indicating the presence of the species within the country.
Some reports suggest that the Tomistoma was once present within Thailand and perhaps even Vietnam, but little solid evidence exists. Within Thailand there have been unconfirmed reports of the species from Kaeng Krachen National Park and Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, but little else. The sole record from Vietnam comes from Mr. J. Mucelli who allegedly witnessed a Tomistoma being killed by South Vietnamese soldiers in Lam Dong province during the Vietnam War in 1967 (Stuebing et al. 2006). If these records are indeed authentic it would mean the historic distribution of T. schlegelii was much wider than what is currently believed, extending from Java in Indonesia up through the Malay peninsula through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. For now this remains a mystery.
Auilya, M. 2003. Entdeckung des Sunda-Gavials (Crocodylia: Tomistoma schlegelii) im Ujung-Kulon National Park (Java, Indonesien). ZGAP Mitteilungen 19: 2-10.
Auliya, M., B. Shwedick, R. Sommerlad, S. Brend and Samedi. 2006. A Short Term Assessment of the Conservation Status of Tomistoma schlegelii (Crocodylia:Crocodylidae) in Tanjung Puting National Park (Central Kalimantan, Indonesia). A cooperative survey by the Orangutan Foundation (UK) and the Tomistoma Task Force, of the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, 36 pp.
Bezuijen, M.R., P. Hartoyo, M. Elliot and B.A. Baker. 1997. Project Tomistoma: Second Report on the Ecology of the False Gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) in Sumatra. Wildlife Management International Pty. Limited; 52 pp.
Bezuijen, M.R., B.M. Shwedick, R. Sommerlad, C. Stevenson, and R.B. Stuebing. 2010. Tomistoma Tomistoma schlegelii. Crocodiles. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Third Edition, ed. by S.C. Manolis and C. Stevenson. Crocodile Specialist Group: Darwin: 133-138.
Simpson, B.K., A. Lopez, S.b. Latif and A.b.m. Yusoh. 1998. Tomistoma (Tomistoma schlegelii) at Tasek Bera, Peninsular Malaysia. Crocodiles. Proceedings of the 14th Working Meeting of the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland. 32-45.
Stuebing, R.B., M.R. Bezuijen, M. Auliya and H.K. Voris. 2006. The Current and Historic Distribution of Tomistoma schlegelii (The False Gharial) (Mueller, 1838) (Crocodylia, Reptilia). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 54 (1): 187-197.
Stuebing, R., S.A.M. Sah, E. Lading and J. Jong. 2004. The status of Tomistoma schlegelii (Mueller) in Malaysia. Crocodiles. Proceedings of the 17th Working Meeting of the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland. 136-140.
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