TH E JAVAN RHINO
I N T R O D U C TI O N
The Javan rhinoceros (more precisely Sunda rhinoceros) or lesser one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is a member of the family Rhinocerotidae and one of five extant rhinoceroses.
Once the most widespread of Asian rhinoceroses, the Javan rhinoceros ranged from the islands of Java and Sumatra, throughout Southeast Asia, and into India and China. The species is critically endangered, with only one known population in the wild, and no individuals in captivity. It is possibly the rarest large mammal on earth, 21 with a population of as few as 40 in Ujung Kulon National Park at the western tip of Java in Indonesia. A second population in Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam was confirmed as extinct in 2011. The decline of the Javan rhinoceros is attributed to poaching, primarily for their horns, which are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, fetching as much as US$30,000 per kilogramme on the black market. 31 Loss of habitat, especially as the result of wars, such as the Vietnam War, in Southeast Asia, has also contributed to the speciesâ€™ decline and hindered recovery. The remaining range is within one nationally protected area, but the rhinos are still at risk from poachers, disease and loss of genetic diversity leading to inbreeding depression. The Javan rhino can live approximately 30â€“45 years in the wild. It historically inhabited lowland rain forest, wet grasslands and large floodplains. The Javan rhino is mostly solitary, except for courtship and offspring-rearing, though groups may occasionally congregate near wallows and salt licks. Aside from humans, adults have no predators in their range. The Javan rhino usually avoids humans, but will attack when it feels threatened. Scientists and conservationists rarely study the animals directly due to their extreme rarity and the danger of interfering with such an endangered species. Researchers rely on camera traps and fecal samples to gauge health and behavior. Consequently, the Javan rhino is the least studied of all rhino species. Two adult rhinos with their calves were filmed in a motion-triggered video released on February 28, 2011 by WWF and Indonesiaâ€™s National Park Authority, which proved it is still breeding in the wild.In April 2012, the National Parks Authority released video showing 35 individual Javan rhinos, including offspring.
LO C ATI O N & H A B ITAT
Even the most optimistic estimate suggests fewer than 100 Javan rhinos remain in the wild. They are considered one of the most endangered species in the world. The Javan rhinoceros is known to survive in only one place, the Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Java.
The animal was once widespread from Assam and Bengal (where their range would have overlapped with both the Sumatran and Indian rhinos) eastward to Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and southwards to the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Java, and possibly Borneo.
The Javan rhino primarily inhabits dense, lowland rain forests, grasslands, and reed beds with abundant rivers, large floodplains, or wet areas with many mud wallows. Although it historically preferred low-lying areas, the subspecies in Vietnam was pushed onto much higher ground (up to 2,000 m or 6,561 ft), probably because of human encroachment and poaching.
AV E R AG E L I F E S PA N
Human, 80 Years
Rhino, 40 Years
AV E R AG E M AT U R I T Y
Human, 15 Years
Rhino, 10 Years
G E S TAT I O N P E R I O D
M AT I N G S E A S O N
The Javan Rhinoceros belongs to the same genus as the Indian rhinoceros, and it has similar mosaicked skin which resembles armor.
At 3.1–3.2 m (10–10.5 feet) in length and 1.4–1.7m (4.6–5.8 ft) in height, it is smaller (in fact, it is closer in size to the black rhinoceros of the genus Diceros). Its horn is usually less than 25 cm (10 inches), smaller than those of the other rhino species.
T H R E AT S
Only one or two small populations of Javan rhino remain. This makes the species extremely vulnerable to extinction due to natural catastrophes, diseases, poaching, political disturbances, and genetic drift. The biology of the species is poorly understood, with techniques for accurately estimating their numbers not fully developed.
Hunting & poaching Javan rhinos were widely killed by trophy hunters during colonial times. They were also killed as agricultural pests and for their horn, a highly prized commodity in traditional Asian medicine. Poaching remains an ever-present threat â€“ and ultimately wiped out the Vietnamese subspecies in 2010. Habitat loss and degradation Another threat to the Javan rhino is habitat loss caused by commercial logging and forest conversion for agriculture. While the Indonesian Javan rhino population lives within a national park, surrounding forests are under pressure from human activities. Reduced genetic diversity The small size of the Javan rhino population is in itself a cause for concern. Low genetic diversity could make it hard for the species to survive diseases or natural disasters like volcano eruptions or earthquakes.
NUMBERS IN THE WILD
NUMBERS IN CAPTIVIT Y
E X TI N C TI O N I N V I E T N A M
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says the Northern White Rhino of central Africa is now ‘possibly extinct’ in the wild, and the Javan Rhino ‘probably extinct’ in Vietnam - after poachers killed the last animal there in 2010.
Only 40 to 60 Javan rhinos now remain in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia. They are the last known living members of the species, with none in captivity. Vietnam’s Javan rhino population had been shrinking for decades as land conversion and a rising local population threatened the animal’s habitat. WWF, along with the International Rhino Foundation, confirmed that the last rhino had died in Vietnam by collecting and analyzing its feces. Twenty-two of the rhino’s dung piles were found in Cat Tien from October 2009 to February 5, 2010, but no dung piles or fresh rhino footprints were seen in the subsequent nine weeks, the 44page report said. Vietnam’s Cat Tien National Park has had no sightings, footprints or dung from live rhinos since the last known animal living there was found dead last April, shot through the leg with its horn chopped off, the WWF said. Genetic analysis of rhino faeces had confirmed in 2004 that at least two rhinos were living in the park, raising hopes that Vietnam’s population might survive. Before 1988, the Javan rhino was believed to be extinct from mainland Asia. A small population was then discovered in Vietnam’s park, and for the past 20 years, a number of wildlife conservationists have worked to try to prevent the species from dying out in Vietnam. The WWF highlighted that Vietnam is on the verge of an ‘extinction crisis’ with several other species — including the Saola and the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey — threatened by deforestation, widespread poaching and a ‘largely uncontrolled’ illegal wildlife trade.
W W F AC TI O N
Monitoring & Tracking
Managing Javan Rhino Habitat
WWF conducts ongoing research on the Javan rhino, which continues to reveal critical information about behavioral patterns, distribution, movement, population size, sex ratio and genetic diversity. We also work closely with the Ujung Kulon National Park Authority to keep track of rhino populations. In 2010, we received camera trap footage of two Javan rhinos and two of their calves in the dense tropical rainforests of the protected area. The videos prove that one of the worldâ€™s rarest mammals are breeding. Before these camera trap images surfaced, only twelve other Javan rhino births were recorded in the past decade. WWF supports habitat management in Ujung Kulon National Park. Our efforts focus on the removal of Arenga palm, an invasive species that leaves the area barren of food for rhinos, and support for antipoaching patrols.
A B O U T R E S TO R E
Restore the animals, or RESTORE for short, is a campaign dedicated to the reinstation of endangered animals around the world.
Working closely with WWF, donations will go towards specific species and directly to the location of action. Work is done everyday to not only maintain their survival, but to nurture their breeding patterns and chances of reproduction. We can only make these species survive with your help. Without your donations, there is a bigger risk that the numbers of these animals will deplete and eventually die away. These are fragile times, which call for action on a worldwide scale. Be part of the cause, donate now at www.restoretheanimals.co.uk. Please, don’t leave it to chance. Let’s act now, before it’s too late.
LET’S ACT NOW, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE