Javan rhino: the situation at the beginning of 2022


Javan rhino: the situation at the beginning of 2022

The Javan rhino is a very rare member of the Rhinoceros family and one of the five extant rhino species. The species is endangered, critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. Its horn usually measures less than 25 cm in length, and is therefore smaller than that of other rhino species.

Only adult males possess horns; females are completely devoid of it. However, if humans are the main threat to this beautiful animal, the climate crisis will also affect its existence. In fact, once the most widespread among the Asian rhinos, the Javan rhinoceros occupied an area that reached India and China from the islands of Java and Sumatra, through Southeast Asia.

The species is seriously threatened: there remains a single known population in nature and no individuals in captivity. It is perhaps the rarest large mammal in the world, with a population of just 58-61 in Ujung Kulon National Park in the western end of Java in Indonesia.

Javan rhino: the situation at the beginning of 2022

The decline of the Javan rhino is attributed to poaching, especially for the horn, particularly in demand in traditional Chinese medicine, which can reach $ 30,000 per kg on the black market.

The subsequent destruction of its habitat, especially due to wars, such as the Vietnam War, in Southeast Asia contributed to the decline of the species and prevented its recovery. The Javan rhino can live in the wild for up to about 30-45 years.

In the past, it populated lowland rainforests, humid grasslands, and vast floodplains. It mainly leads a solitary life, except for the period of courtship and breeding of the chicks, even if more specimens can occasionally aggregate near mud pools and salt outcrops.

Excluding humans, adults have no predators in their range. The Javan rhino generally avoids humans, but can attack when threatened. Only rarely do scientists and conservationists manage to study the animal directly, given its extreme rarity and the danger of interfering with such an endangered species.

Researchers rely on photo traps and fecal samples to assess health and behavior. Consequently, the Javan rhino is the least studied rhino species. Images of two adult specimens with their young captured with a motion-activated camera were released on February 28, 2011 by WWF and the National Parks Authority of Indonesia, thus proving that the species is still reproducing in the wild.