One of the few remaining Javan rhinos was killed by poachers in Vietnam last month, it has been revealed; with fewer than 60 individuals remaining the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is the rarest of the five rhino species.
The dead rhino was found on April 29th, shot with its horn missing. This represents a massive loss for the Vietnamese sub-population, which is thought to number fewer than 8 rhinos. The Javan rhino is legally protected in Vietnam, but as horns are valued for use in traditional medicine poaching remains a threat.
In the past extensive habitat loss across Asia and poaching drove the global population to its current critical level, and now the population is so small the Javan rhino is extremely vulnerable to disease, natural disasters and problems caused by inbreeding.
The Javan rhino is Critically Endangered and is ranked the 11th most important mammal conservation priority worldwide, according to the EDGE method. This species is thought to have remained relatively unchanged for over one million years, and is one of the few surviving members of an ancient and formerly diverse group of ungulates (hoofed animals), along with tapirs and wild horses.
Formerly widespread in south-east Asia, this rhino is now confined to two widely separate locations; the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, and a small population at the Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam, where this shooting took place.
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