Javan Rhinos are a species of Asian Rhino, found only in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java. They are the most threatened out of the five extant species. These Rhino have a singular horn, approximately 10 inches long. Their skin is dark grey in colour with a number of loose folds which give the appearance of armour plating. In the past, there were three subspecies of Javan Rhino, two of which are now extinct.
LATIN NAME: Rhinoceros sondaicus
STATUS: Critically Endangered (CR)
MATURE POPULATION: 18
HEIGHT: 4.6-5.8 feet
WEIGHT: 1,984-5,071 pounds
LIFESPAN: 30-40 years
CURRENT GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE:
Historically, the Javan Rhino was found in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam, Sumatra, Java and most likely in southern China. The exact historic range is uncertain as reports of Rhino occurrence failed to differentiate between the three different Asian Rhino species. In 19th century the species was eradicated from most of its historic range, with only one small, isolated population remaining in Java. It is estimated from camera traps that there are 68 individuals in this area.
The Javan Rhino resides in lowland tropical forests, close to water. Little is known about the preferred habitat of this species due to its rarity. The current habitat they occupy may not be optimal but due to pressures from Arenga palm, food competition and human encroachment, their habitats have been restricted to this region.
The species is solitary, except for mothers with young and during mating.
The protection of the Javan Rhino not only benefits this species but also many other species which share the same habitat in the Ujung Kulon National Park. The Javan Rhino represent the last remaining individuals of that species. Therefore, they represent the final hope of saving a species which is on the brink of extinction. If we lose this last population in Java, an entire species will disappear from the face of the Earth forever.
Javan Rhinos have been subjected to extreme poaching for their horns, resulting in collapse of populations. Rhino horns have traditionally been used in Chinese medicine. The only population left remains in the Ujung Kulon National Park. The population size here may be limited to the effective carrying capacity of the area, meaning there are not enough resources including food and water to sustain larger populations.
Javan Rhinos have suffered from habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from human population expansion and human encroachment. There is threat that in the future with projected human population growth, human encroachment onto protected areas may increase, increasing the human-wildlife conflict due to increased contact between humans and Rhino.
The presence of the dominant palm species (Arenga obtusifolia), known as langkap in the area presents many issues as it inhibits the growth of plants which Rhinos consume. Arenga covers an estimated 60% of the peninsular section of the National Park, and where it grows, little else does. The removal of Arenga begin in 2010, as of 2018, 150ha have been removed.
Javan Rhino face competition for food sources with Javan Banteng which exist in numbers of 800 in Ujung Kulon National Park. If Javan Banteng populations increase, there will be more competition for food sources with Rhinos.
There is a constant threat of a volcanic eruption similar to that of Krakatoa in 1883 which decimated Ujung Kulon and surrounding areas. An eruption of a similar magnitude would wipe out the remaining Javan Rhino.
Whilst Saving The Survivors (STS) is best known for the emergency work performed on African Rhino species, including the Black Rhino and White Rhino, we also assist with any species in need further afield.
Through advancements in our medical knowledge and care of African Rhinos, we are able to further our collective knowledge of Rhinos and share our expertise with other organisations, including those who care for Asian Rhino species. This is due to the anatomical similarities of Rhino species. By sharing our knowledge, we are all better equipped in ensuring a future for these magnificent creatures.