Quantcast

4 Rhino Calves Spotted in Indonesia Boosts Javan Population to 72

Animals
Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species' last habitat on Earth. Sugeng Hendratno / WWF

By Basten Gokkon

The global population of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros has increased to 72 after four new calves were spotted in the past several months.


Rhino experts have welcomed the news of a rise in the population of the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus), a species driven close to extinction by poaching and habitat loss. The only known remaining population of Javan rhinos is now confined to a single precarious habitat in Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Indonesia's Java Island.

At the end of April this year, the estimated number of declined to 68 following the death of a juvenile male due to critical injuries believed to have been be inflicted by an older male. Since then, however, a survey using camera traps across the park has observed four new calves, officials said.

"We are excited to see new births taking place in Ujung Kulon," CeCe Sieffert, acting executive director of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), said in a statement. "Surpassing a population number of 70 Javan rhinos is a significant milestone."

A camera trap recorded a female Javan rhino with her calf. Ujung Kulon National Park Agency

The Indonesian environment ministry said the new calves had different mothers, and all were spotted within the park's borders.

"Ujung Kulon National Park is considered safe from threats to the area so wildlife there can breed," Indra Exploitasia, the ministry's director of biodiversity, told Mongabay in a text message.

"There are also programs to maintain the habitat, such as clearing invasive plants that disrupt growth of vegetation that the rhinos eat," she added.

A decade ago, the Javan rhino population was estimated at no more than 50 individuals in the park, a protected area spanning just 787 square kilometers (304 square miles) of land. (There's also a marine protected area of 443 square kilometers, or 171 square miles.) Efforts by the Indonesian government and organizations from around the world to beef up security across the area from encroachment and poaching have been put in force for many years, and experts now say they have resulted in a stable increase in rhino numbers.

The IRF said there has been no poaching in the park in more than 20 years, and at least one new calf born every year since 2012. A new marine patrol is currently being trained and expected to start monitoring the coastline of the park in January, the group added.

"It is a testament to the commitment of government and park officials to the protection of the Javan rhino and their habitat," Sieffert said.

Even as its population grows, however, the species remains at risk from a range of threats — from infectious disease and human activities, to natural disasters. Experts also fear Ujung Kulon is at or near its carrying capacity for the species, limiting future population growth. These factors have prompted the government and conservation groups to work together to find a suitable second habitat in which to establish a new rhino population. The plan gained urgency after a tsunami struck Ujung Kulon in December 2018. No rhinos were harmed, the disaster highlighted the precariousness of their one and only sanctuary.

Despite the urgency of the situation, the task of finding a second habitat for the rhinos has been put on hold; instead, the Indonesian government has opted to expand the usable habitat inside the park.

Reposted with permission from Mongabay.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Trump leaves after delivering a speech at the Congress Centre during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 21, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed the concerns of environmental activists as "pessimism" in a speech to political and business leaders at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday.

Read More

Warning: The video above may be upsetting to viewers.

An amusement park in China came under fire on social media this weekend for forcing a pig off a 230 foot-high bungee tower.

Read More
Sponsored
Participants at the tree-planting event in Ankazobe district, Madagascar, on Jan. 19. Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy / Mongabay

By Malavika Vyawahare, Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy

Madagascar has embarked on its most ambitious tree-planting drive yet, aiming to plant 60 million trees in the coming months. The island nation celebrates 60 years of independence this year, and the start of the planting campaign on Jan. 19 marked one year since the inauguration of President Andry Rajoelina, who has promised to restore Madagascar's lost forests.

Read More
A pedestrian wearing a mask walks in a residential area in Beijing on Jan. 21, 2020. The number of people in China infected by a new SARS-like virus jumped to 291, according to authorities. WANG ZHAO / AFP via Getty Images

A new coronavirus that began sickening people in China late in 2019 can be transmitted from human to human, the country's health ministry announced Monday.

Read More
New pine trees grow from the forest floor along the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western boundary of Glacier National Park on Sept. 16, 2019 near West Glacier, Montana. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Alex Kirby

New forests are an apparently promising way to tackle global heating: the trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities. But there's a snag, because permanently lower river flows can be an unintended consequence.

Read More