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Javan Rhinoceros

East Asia

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Rhinoceros sondaicus

Critically Endangered

The Javan Rhinoceros is fast becoming extinct because of:

  • high demand of its horn in the black market as a status symbol
  • the use of horn for Chinese medicine

The Javan Rhinoceros, also known as the lesser one-horned rhinoceros, is possibly the world’s rarest large land mammal and the most threatened of the five rhino species on Earth.

Although these single-horned ungulates are native to Indonesia’s Java Island, there used to be well over half a million of these animals living throughout Southeast Asia and Northeast India at the start of the 20th century.

Today, the last viable population with just less than 50 individuals can be found in the remote Ujung Kulon National Park. The park’s suitability for rhino existence is just at 40 percent and it is believed that it is already close to its maximum capacity. Having these few Javan rhinoceroses located in just a single range threatens its survival due to frequent inbreeding cases and unrelenting poaching activities. The proximity of the Ujung Kulon Peninsula to the active Anak Krakatau Volcano also exposes the animals to total decimation.

The steep decline in its number is attributed to poaching as the Javan Rhinoceros’ horns are priced for as much as US$30,000 per kilogram on the black market or up to a quarter of a million dollars for a single horn.

The Javan Rhinoceroses are predominantly browsers in lowland rain forests and flood plains. They live in solitude with the exception of breeding pairs or nursing mothers. Human encroachment has forced these rare living herbivores to become active mountain climbers where they can feed on plants and tree parts without disturbance.