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Javan Rhinoceros, the Mighty Icon of Western Indonesia

 

Indonesia is a home to numerous majestic animals like Javan rhinoceros, also known as Rhinoceros Sondaicus. The Javan rhinos, in fact, are endemic to Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten, Indonesia.

The Asian Games 2018, for instance, has taken a Javan rhino as one of its icons and it is named Kaka. Kaka is set to enliven the sporting games with two other fellows Bhin Bhin and Atung, which are also Indonesia's endemic animals. Bhin Bhin is a paradise bird from eastern Indonesia while Atung is a Bawean deer from East Java.

Javan Rhinoceros, the Mighty Icon of Western Indonesia
Image source: Shutterstock

Back to Javan rhinos! Male Javan rhinos have a small horn with a length of around 25 centimeters while the horn of female ones is smaller. Some female rhinos even do not have horns. These animals have weight at between 900 and 2,300 kilograms with body length at around 2 to 4 meters.

They have a pointed upper lip to help taking leaves and twigs for their feed. Male rhinoceros reach adulthood after 10 years, while the females are at the age of 5 to 7 years with a period of pregnancy for 15 - 16 months.

The Javan Rhinoceros once lived in almost all the mountains of West Java at 3,000 meters above sea level. Unfortunately, their population rapidly decreasing due to wild poaching despite their status as protected animals. In the 1960s, it was estimated that only about 20 to 30 rhinos left in the Ujung Kulon National Park. The good news is, the population number bounced back to almost double in the subsequent years after strict safeguard measures supported by international agencies, such as WWF Indonesia.

Javan Rhinoceros, the Mighty Icon of Western Indonesia
Image source: Shutterstock

Even so, the Javan rhinoceros is still among the rarest rhino species. In the world, there are now only 68 Javan rhinoceros and all of them are in Ujung Kulon National Park. Therefore, they are categorized critically endangered and listed in the Red List Data Book list issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

The Javan Rhinoceros has been classified as protected species based on Government Regulation No. 7/1999 on the Preservation of Wild Plants and Animals.
Today, the greatest threat to the Javan rhino population is not the wild poaching but diminished genetic diversity because of inbreeding.

The phenomenon often occurs because the rhino population lives only in the 45,000-hectare national park. It is too small for these big mammals. With inbreeding, species genes will degrade in quality and weaken the rhinos’ ability to overcome diseases or natural disasters. Because of these reasons, many experts have recommended the existence of alternative habitat for the Javan Rhinoceros.

Some locations to be considered are Baduy Forest in Banten, Halimun - Salak National Park in Bogor, West Java, and Sancang and Cikepuh Natural Reservation in Sukabumi, also West Java.

 

Image Source of Header Banner: Shutterstock

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