We are delighted to hear news reports from Indonesia that the Javan rhino population in the Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP) has increased by seven rhinos during the past year.
According to the Jakarta Globe, the Park’s conservation chairman, Mohammad Haryon, reported that monitoring activities have detected 58 rhinos living in the National Park. This is fantastic news for the critically endangered Javan rhino, as previous population estimates were around 37-44 individuals.
According to Haryono the 58 individuals comprise eight young rhinos and 50 teenage and adults. He said of the eight young rhinos, three were female, while of the 50 older animals, 20 were female.
These preliminary results are great news, however it is important to triangulate the results using other census methods such as faecal DNA studies and patch occupancy surveys, before the population increase can definitely be confirmed.
As Javan rhinos are so rare, hidden cameras, with night-vision technology, are used to monitor the species. So far 120 camera traps have been installed in the Park in areas often visited by rhinos, such as fields and wallows.
In Indonesia the Rhino Protection Unit teams are tasked with visiting the cameras to collect the camera’s memory cards. According to Haryon a huge amount of footage is needed to identify the individual rhinos.
During the 10-month surveillance, we collected 16,000 clips but only 1,660 of them contained footage of the Javan rhinos and only 1,388 of the clips were able to properly identify the animals. The remaining showed only their feet or tails, which made it impossible for us to make a proper identification.
Several key identification techniques are used to distinguish between the individual rhinos. These include studying the size or shape of the horns, skin wrinkles around the eyes, the folds around the neck and the position and shape of the ears, defects or injuries and the color of the skin.
The Javan rhino is thought to be the most endangered mammal in the whole world. Urgent efforts are needed to save the species from the brink of extinction including anti-poaching patrols habitat expansion programmes.
Click here to learn more about the Javan Rhino Science and Conservation programme, which is working to expand the available habitat for the Javan rhino.
Click here to make a donation to support Javan rhino conservation efforts.
Source: The Jakarta Globe Ujung Kulon National Park Says It Gained Seven Javan Rhinos
Photo credit Alain Compost