Endangered Species

Javan Rhino Conservation

leopardAlthough the Javan rhinoceros was once the most widespread of any Asian rhino breed, today it is the most endangered.  The Javan rhinos were decimated in 1883 when a 120 foot tsunami, caused by the Krakatau volcano eruption, forced its way through the Ujong Kulon National Park where the rhinos lived.  The Associated Press reports that the greatest threats to the rhinos today include poaching, habitat destruction and competition for food with other species.  The rhinos share the park with leopards, silvery gibbons, crab-eating macaques, mouse deer and several hundred species of birds and snakes, accounts the WWF.

The Javan rhino population dipped in the 1960’s to just 20 individuals living in Ujung Kulon.  The World Wildlife Fund stepped in, and boosted the population to 50 rhinos in the 1990’s.  While I’m not sure what this means for their genetic health, I still think it’s great news.

Then in recent weeks 3 Javan rhinos have been found dead.  Two apparently died from natural causes, and one from poaching.  This has raised the alarm bells, because a population as small as 50 individuals can’t afford to lose any members.

Javan rhinoIt’s time for more good news, and ProPrint brings us some.  The Asia Pulp & Paper company and the Indonesian Rhino Foundation have agreed to undertaking a joint venture to protect the Javan rhino and its habitat.  The endeavor will involve making the Javan Rhino Sanctuary in Ujung Kulon National Park safer for the rhinos.  This includes widening its habitat and keeping it safe from domestic animals and nearby population growth.

Also, a 7 mile (12 km.) long electric fence is now being built around a new 10,000 acre sanctuary and breeding ground beside Ujung Kulon.  The plan is to herd some rhinos into the area after the fence is completed, later this year.

As well, conservation groups and the Indonesian government are planning to relocate some rhinos to a safer area.  The new area has to keep the rhinos happy – thus, pools and wallows are on the shopping list.  Happy rhinos breed, which suits the bottom line that their population needs to grow.  The target growth rate is 3 percent a year.

Good Luck to the conservationists and the Javan (and other) rhinos.  These positive actions are what all endangered species need.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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