Lauren Melella, Global Animal

INDONESIA — Earlier this year, we reported a joyful update in regards to the most endangered large mammal on earth, the Javan rhino. By 2012, the last known Javan Rhino in Vietnam was killed. Efforts to preserve this species began when the Javan Rhino Conservation Working Group (CWG) planned to increase the population by 50 percent over the next five years. They were successful in their ambitions, and by providing plans for the park, things immediately began to improve for the Javan rhino.

One of the last remaning Javan rhinos. Photo credit: Ujung Kulon National Park (TNUK).
Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of APP with Agus Priambudi, M.Se., Head of Ujung Kulon National Park. Photo credit: Ujung Kulon National Park (TNUK).

Because of these conservation efforts, the update included a positive announcement on the progression of the species as well as new video footage capturing 35 flourishing rhinos.

To further update on the conservation effort, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of the major corporate sponsors of the conservation effort within the Ujung Kulon National Park (TNUK), continues to support preservation of the Javan Rhino. Because of this desire to preserve the species, they have renewed their partnership with the national park.

By 2013, the CWG will further expand its Javan rhino habitat revitalization initiatives and continue monitoring the population. Furthermore, the group will fund a field team to monitor the rhino population through 60 video cameras, which are already installed in the national park.

As for future planning, the CWG has laid out its priorities for the year ahead. One of the revitalization goals is to triple the restoration of the Javan rhino feeding ground. Currently, these areas are overgrown with a vicious plant species called Langkap. The overpopulation of this plant deters growth of viable plants that rhinos can feed on. This lack of rhino feed is an important facotrs that can contribute to the extinction of the Javan rhino, experts say.

Another important focus for the APP and the Ujung Kulon National Park partnership is community empowerment programs. In the past year, the CWG has implemented a number of community development projects providing education and training that improve villagers’ livelihoods and therefore avoids encroachment into the Javan Rhino conservation area. They plan on building basic infrastructure for clean water provisions to two villages surrounding the national park. This will impact the lives of around 4,000 people.

Furthermore, organic farming training will be provided in the second year to three other local villages. With proper management in rice harvesting, it is possible to yield as much as the nation target, which is 6.5 tonnes per hectare. Currently, rice harvesting in the area has never exceeded 2 tonnes. By improving yields in rice harvesting, a form of viable income for the community will prevent encroachment into the national park, including the area of the Javan rhino habitats.

One of the last remaning Javan rhinos. Photo credit: Ujung Kulon National Park (TNUK).
One of the last remaining Javan rhinos. Photo credit: Ujung Kulon National Park (TNUK).

Dr. Ir. Moh. Haryono, M.Si, Head of TNUK and Chairman of Javan Rhino CWG, states: “This commitment provides optimism and encouragement for the CWG in supporting TNUK to conserve the Javan rhino. In the second period and beyond, we will continue to work together to increase the Javan rhino population in TNUK and to ensure that this critically endangered species can continue to survive and hopefully prosper in the long term.”

Recently, hidden cameras captured six baby Javan rhinos with their mothers in Ujung Kulon, raising hopes that the species has a future. Watch the video below, provided courtesy of Ujung Kulon National Park (TNUK):