Adrianne Gallatin, Global Animal
(ANIMAL CONSERVATION) INDONESIA — Do you know the Javan Rhino? There are good odds you don’t. In fact, the odds are stacked mercilessly against this endangered species, as their numbers dropped below thirty in the past ten years. The good news? Researchers say their numbers are finally increasing.
This rhino is small and elusive, unlike it’s larger African, Sumatran, and Indian relatives, and it is the most endangered large mammal species in the world. Sadly, the last known Javan Rhino in Vietnam was reportedly killed in 2010. Now there is only one tiny group of wild Javan Rhinos left, and they hide in the jungle in the Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
One year ago, the Javan Rhino Conservation Working Group (CWG) announced their ambitious plan to increase the Javan rhino population by 50 percent over the next 5 years. They provided plans for the park and the surrounding communities, and immediately put things into motion.
This week, with great pride, the CWG announced that everything is coming along swimmingly for the Javan Rhino. Things are going so well, in fact, that they are actually ahead of their original schedule.
New video footage from cameras smattered around the park shows an estimated 35 flourishing rhinos including, most importantly, several young ones. Camera footage has reported only 14 rhino births over the past ten years, so any number of juveniles is an incredibly good sign.
The effort at Ujung Kulon is special. The CWG helps to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the near-extinct rhinos by instigating several “habitat enhancement” projects, which provides food and shelter. But more importantly, the CWG has begun a series of community development projects among the surrounding 15 villages. By providing alternatives to poaching, like successful agriculture and education, the CWG has made encroaching upon the national park less desirable to villagers, and therefore safer for the rhinos and the many other endangered animals in the park. Other conservationists, like those who propose legalizing the farming of rhino horns in South Africa, could learn from this holistic approach to saving a species with the entire habitat, human and animal, in mind.
The national park already protects 57 rare species of plants and 35 different mammal species, and the CWG believes that you will only see more Javan Rhinos over the next four years.
Check out the elusive Javan Rhinos caught on video: