Last week WWF and Indonesia’s National Park Authority released new video footage of two critically endangered Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and their calves providing positive news that this species is breeding in the Ujung Kulon National Park on the island of Java. The video footage released by WWF shows two separate families, one with a female calf and one with a male calf.
The Javan rhino features highly on the EDGE mammal list as it is the rarest of all rhino species with as few as 40 individuals remaining in the isolated population on Java and even fewer individuals in Vietnam. Although it is fantastic to see calves are still being born in Indonesia the existence of this unique rhino is far from certain and the population requires more protection to ensure it is not lost forever.
The Javan rhino is a one-horned rhino that diverged from its close relative the two-horned rhino over 30 million years ago and it is thought that the Javan rhino has remained relatively unchanged for the past 1 million years! Living in the rainforest eating foliage, fallen fruit and grass the Javan Rhino spends its days bathing and wallowing in mud. Females only give birth once every four to five years so population growth is slow. Therefore it is encouraging to see two young calves on the video footage. Click on the link below to view the video on YouTube.
Despite this good news the small size of the Javan rhino population still makes it very vulnerable to threats such as poaching and habitat loss. Although rhino poaching is illegal the demand for horn and other parts for use in Asian medicine means people still hunt these animals with little concern for the effect it is having on the population. Habitat loss is also a considerable threat to the Javan rhino due to increasing human activity such as logging and conversion of land into agricultural areas in the habitats traditionally favoured by rhinos.
There are no Javan rhinos in captivity so it is vital the remaining population is protected before it slides into extinction. You can donate directly to WWF’s ‘Hope for Javan Rhino’ campaign which will fund urgent Javan rhino research and conservation projects this year.