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More Hope for Indonesia's Endangered Rhinos

 

Among 5 species of Rhinos found in the world, two have their habitat in Indonesia, which are the Javan One-Horned Rhinos and the Hairy SumatranRhinos. The others are the White Rhinos, the African and the Indian Rhinos.

Today, only 63 Java rhinos are left in the world roaming in the Ujung Kulon National Park at the south western- corner of Java , with some 100 Sumatran rhinos scattered on Sumatra living in  the deep jungles  of Mt. Leuser National Park in Aceh, in the most northern parts of Sumatra, in the South Bukit Barisan National Park and the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung province in the southern corner of Sumatra, said Mohamad Haryono, Head of the Sub-directorate for Generic Resources of the Directorate for the Conservation of Natural Diversity.

Oh the two species, the Java rhinos are the most critically endangered since they face many challenges. Ujung Kulon is situated just across the active Krakatau volcano , and is therefore continuously threatened by volcanic eruptions or tsunamis, which could wipe out this species entirely off this planet.   Living in the tropical jungles of Indonesia the Java and Sumatra rhinos are both extremely difficult to trace since they are naturally shy and are nocturnal. Scientists can follow them only through hidden trap cameras.

Although carefully protected, the number of Indonesian rhinos has remained stagnant for decades since rhinos are loners and are slow breeders. Female rhinos take 16 month to deliver a calf, while they give birth only once in 4 to 5 years, and this considering that rhinos usually grow only to 40 years of age on average. 

 

1 | The Most Critically Endangered Javan Rhinos


Among the rhino population, the Javan Rhinos are the most critically endangered . The Java rhinos are dusty grey in color, and have a single horn which grows to about 12 cm.  Once found in Vietnam and other countries on Asia, the estimated 63 presently living in the Ujung Kulon National Park are today  the only  remaining ones left on this earth.

Some hope has grown , however, when last year scientists caught on their trap cameras three young calves, which bodes well for the future  of these Javan rhinos.

Besides the threat of poaching, its habitat is also  precarious, since it is located just opposite the active Krakatau Volcano in the Sunda Strait.   

Although the Ujung Kulon Park is well protected, and few people enter the park, however,  lately some species of palm trees  - the Arenga Palm - have spread in many parts of  the Park, eating up and invading into the food supply of rhinos. And since rangers are prohibited from cutting down trees, this becomes a quandary, said Haryono.   Furthermore,  because of their small number, the Java rhinos are inbreeding, resulting in deformed  calves even from birth on. Moreover, since inbreeding is prone to  illnesses this might spread among the animals.

As a possible solution, the government now plans to start a National park at Cikepuh in Sukabumi to avoid further inbreeding and to isolate healthy rhinos from being infected should an epidemic spread amongst them.

 

2 | More Hope for the Sumatran Rhinos


Sumatran Rhinos are the smallest species of this genus, they are hairy and are the Asian two-horned rhinos. Once roaming the wilds from India to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and China, these are now only found on the island of Sumatra.  

There is, however, more hope for the continued existence of the Sumatran rhinos, Lately 2 new calves were born at the Way Kambas reserve from two rhinos who have lived in the reserve for some time. Last May 2016, a calf was born to the female  called Ratu and the male named Andalas . While  some years earlier  the same pair had produced the first calf called Andatu.

Last year in 2015, a Sumatran rhino was captured in East Kalimantan which was given the name Najaq . This find created great excitement since it wasfirst believed that these had long died out on Borneo. Now scientists believe there is still another rhino roaming in the jungles of Borneo.

These new additions have brought renewed hope for the continued increase of the rhino population in Indonesia as long as they remain protected from poachers, and their habitat remains ensured.

(Source : Bisnis Indonesia. WWF)