Camera traps have successfully taken photos of 35 Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) in Ujung Kulon National Park. The small population, with an estimated 45 or so individuals, is the species’ last stand against extinction. Late last year, a subspecies of the Javan rhino, the Vietnamese rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus), was declared extinct.
The photos provided good news in that five of the rhinos photographed were calves, proving the rhinos were still reproducing effectively. However the photos also highlighted concerns: nearly 60 percent of the rhinos were males, meaning there is likely a sexual imbalance in the tiny population that could prove troublesome. Scientists are concerned that a lack of females could lead to fights between male rivals.
Given a total population that certainly doesn’t exceed 60 individuals and is likely less, Javan rhinos are, not surprisingly, listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. They are imperiled by poaching for their horns and habitat destruction, but perhaps even more dangerous in their case is that all the animals survive in one park, meaning a single natural disaster or disease could wipe them out.
Across Asia and Africa, habitat destruction and poaching have pushed all five of the world’s rhino species, at one time or another, into endangerment. Today, three of the world’s five rhino species: the black, the Javan, and the Sumatran—are listed as Critically Endangered. The EAZA IUCN/SSC Southeast Asia Campaign supports the Sumatran rhino conservation project in Way Kambas National Park. Funds generated by the campaign will be used towards supporting existing Rhino Patrolling Units and a floating boat guard post to reduce poaching and other illegal activities in the park. This project, run by the International Rhino Foundation in partnership with Yayasan Badak Indonesia, is part of a long-term effort to ensure the survival of the Sumatran rhino, as well as other threatened Sumatran species through intensive protection and monitoring.