Javan Rhinoceros

Endangered Animal Species Native to Indonesia

Background Information

Until the middle of the 19th century, the Javan rhino was widespread. Because all three species of Asiatic rhinos occurred in the same general region, and early reports failed to distinguish between them, it is impossible to be certain of the precise historical range.

Fewer than 55 Javan rhinos are believed to exist in two populations; between 35 and 50 Javan rhinos inhabit Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, Indonesia. The Javan rhinoceros weighs 3200 - 4400 lb. It has one horn and prominent folds in the skin. The horn grows onto a roughened area of the skull. The Javan rhino is hairless except for its ears and tail tip. Its thick gray skin is divided by deep folds to make a "saddle" over the neck. The single horn rarely exceeds 25 cm long and is lacking in some females. The Javan rhino prefers tall grass and reed beds in lowland rain forests with a good supply of water and plentiful mud wallows. Its diet consists of shoots, twigs, young foliage and fallen fruit. It remains near water and enjoys bathing and wallowing in mud. Javan rhinos are mostly solitary except for mating pairs and mothers with young.

Threats and Causes of Endangerment

Poaching of the rhino for its horn is said to be a reason for its decline. Rhino horn is valued highly for use in Oriental medicine. Conservationists think that the lack of growth in the UKNP population is due to other factors, such as habitat fragmentation and reduced food availability. As human populations and the demands of villages along the park’s eastern boundary have grown, more land has been converted to agriculture and domestic livestock, which sometimes wanders into the park, exposing rhinos to disease risk. Another overriding problem for the Javan rhino is that there is only one viable population in one location, which makes events such as earthquakes or disease outbreaks a great threat to the species.

Solutions and Successes

For more than a decade, a consortium has donated money for Rhino Protection Units in the park. The RPUs are administered by a local organization, Yayasan Badak Indonesia. In each unit, four-person teams patrol an average of 15 days per month, safeguarding rhinos from local threats and helping park authorities respond to encroachment and other problems. Since the program’s inception, no poaching has occurred. The Indonesian Rhino Conservation Action Plan sets a goal of "creating conditions conducive to, and then actually developing, viable populations of Javan rhinos in the wild." The aim is to expand the wild population in UKNP by about 20 percent and relocate small groups to other areas. The first step has been to conduct surveys of a few promising relocation sites within the species’ historic range in Java to evaluate carrying capacity, adjacent human populations, and other relevant characteristics. Another important step is developing education programs in adjacent areas to explain the benefits of rhino conservation.

Facts

  • Family: Rhinocerotidae

  • Scientific Name: Rhinoceros sondaicus

  • Vernacular Name: Badak raya, BadakThe Javan rhino is one of the world’s rarest mammals.
  • Scientific Name: Rhinoceros sondaicus

  • Vernacular Name: Badak raya, BadakThe Javan rhino is one of the world’s rarest mammals.
  • In 1934 the Javan rhino was said to be the rarest of all the earth's large mammals, and may remain so today.
  • Chinese poachers threatened the Javan rhino in the Udjung Kulon reserve. However, after a poacher was killed by a Javan tiger in the reserve, the poachers left for fear of the tigers.
  • The Javan rhino can tolerate disturbed forest.
  • The Javan rhino usually seeks to escape rather than attack an enemy, although when wounded or with a calf it may charge.