Conservation Actions

It is legally protected in all range states. The species has been on CITES Appendix I since 1975.

A Rhino Protection Unit (RPU) has been established for the protection of this species on Java (Sectionov and Waladi pers. comm.). It occurs in two protected areas: Ujung Kulon National Park on Java and the Cat Loc part (Dong Nai province) of the Cat Tien National Park in Viet Nam.

There is an urgent need to review the feasibility of a reintroduction/translocation program, since the only known viable population occurs in a geographically restricted area of Java. There is also a need to survey parts of its historical range for the very remote possibility that small remnant populations exist, especially in parts of Lao PDR or Cambodia. The population in Cat Loc is probably no longer viable, and requires intensive management measures in order to survive (perhaps including captive breeding and re-introductions).

Location Information

The Javan Rhino formerly occurred from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Viet Nam, and probably southern China through peninsular Malaya to Sumatra and Java (Grubb, 2005). The species' precise historical range is indeterminate, as early accounts failed to distinguish rhinos to specific level, due to partial sympatry with the other two Asian rhino species (Rhinoceros unicornis and Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). Beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century, the species was extirpated from most of its historical range, and currently occurs only in two small isolated areas. The last records of Javan Rhino vary, from 1920 in Myanmar, to 1932 in Malaysia, and 1959 on Sumatra (Indonesia) (Simon and Geroudet, 1970).

The subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis formerly occurred in northeastern India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, but is now extinct (Nowak, 1999).

The subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus formerly occurred in Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and eastern Thailand. Currently, this subspecies is restricted to the area in and around the Cat Loc part (Dong Nai province) of the Cat Tien National Park in Viet Nam (Schenkel and Schenkel, 1969).

The subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus formerly occurred from Thailand through Malaysia, to the islands of Java and Sumatra (Indonesia). The only remaining population occurs on the Ujung Kulon Peninsula (Hoogerwerf, 1970), which forms the westernmost extremity of the island of Java. The Javan population of this subspecies has been restricted to this area since around the 1930s.

This is a lowland species that typically occurs up to 600 m (Sectionov and Waladi pers. comm.), but has been recorded above 1,000 m (Nowak, 1999).

Population Information

An estimated 40-60 animals live in the area on the western tip of Java in Ujung Kulon National Park. Another smaller population occurs in and around the Cat Loc part (Dong Nai province) of the Cat Tien National Park in of Viet Nam, with maybe as few as six individuals remaining (R. Steinmetz, M. Khan bin Momin Khan pers. comm.). These populations have not significantly declined over the last few decades, and the current trend is not known (Sectionov and Waladi pers. comm.), but no breeding has been observed in the Cat Loc population for many years (M. Khan bin Momin Khan pers. comm.). There are no animals currently in captivity, and a total of only 22 individuals have ever been known to exist in captivity (Rookmaaker et al., 1998).

Threats

The cause of population decline is mainly attributable to the excessive demand for rhino horn and other products for Chinese and allied medicine systems (Foose and van Strien 1997). The bulk of the remaining population occurs as a single population within a national park and the population size in Ujung Kulon National Park is probably limited to the effective carrying capacity of the area (around 50 animals). One possible threat to this population is disease. In addition, such a small population faces a constant threat from poachers, although there is evidence that current poaching levels are under control (Sectionov and Waladi pers. comm.). The Cat Loc population may be too small to be viable, and no breeding has been observed for many years, and it is possible that the animals are too old to breed. The population is so small that all the animals could be of the same sex.

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IUCN Red List Account Link

Please click here to see the species' IUCN Red List Account page.

Photo Credits

Stephen Belcher/http://www.stephenbelcher.net/(category and featured image)