Last known Javan rhino in Vietnam has died, leaving only a small population in Indonesia to ensure the species’ survival. The Guardian reports on a sad tale …. Could this have been prevented!?
Poaching has driven the Javan rhinoceros to extinction in Vietnam, leaving the critically endangered species‘ only remaining population numbering less than 50 on the Indonesian island that gave it its name, the WWF and International Rhino Foundation said.
“The last Javan rhino in Vietnam has gone,” said Tran Thi Minh Hien, WWF-Vietnam country director. “It is painful that despite significant investment in the Vietnamese rhino population, conservation efforts failed to save this unique animal. Vietnam has lost part of its natural heritage.”
The Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticusare) was believed to be extinct in mainland Asia until an individual was killed by hunters in Vietnam’s Cat Tien region in 1988, leading to the discovery of a small population that by 2007 numbered just eight. From the mid-1990s, a number of organisations worked to set up habitat protection programmes to safeguard the rhino and its food sources, leading to the establishment of a national park.
But even within a protected area, it has proved extremely difficult to defend the species from illegal hunting. In April 2010, local people reported the discovery of a rhino carcass. A forest patrol team was immediately deployed to the site where they confirmed the dead animal was a Javan rhino. It had a bullet in its leg and its horn had been removed. Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is a highly prized ingredient in traditional medicines, and has recently been lauded as a cure for cancer, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this.
Between 2009 and 2010, in an effort to determine the exact Javan rhinoceros population status in Cat Tien, WWF conducted a field survey, using highly trained sniffer dogs from the US to locate rhino dung samples. The results of DNA analysis conducted on the samples, published today in a new WWF report, have confirmed that all of the dung collected in the park belonged to the same rhino, which was found dead shortly after the survey was completed.
“Reintroduction of the rhinoceros to Vietnam is not economically or practically feasible. It is gone from Vietnam forever,” said Christy Williams, WWF’s Asian elephant and rhino programme co-ordinator.
The Javan rhinoceros is now believed to be confined to one population, comprising less than 50 individuals, on the island of Java. The species was once was found on Indonesia, and throughout south-east Asia– including India and China, but increasing pressure on its rainforest habitat has put a question mark over the future of the species.
“This makes our work in Indonesia even more critical. We must ensure that what happened to the Javan rhinoceros in Vietnam is not repeated in Indonesia a few years down the line,” said Susie Ellis of the International Rhino Foundation.
Illegal hunting to supply the wildlife trade has reduced many species in Vietnam to small and isolated populations. The Indochinese tiger, Asian elephant and endemic species like the saola, Tonkin snub-nosed monkey and Siamese crocodile are on the verge of extinction in the country. Conservationists have warned that inadequate law enforcement and ineffective management of protected areas, and infrastructure development occurring within and close to Vietnam’s protected areas will only exert additional pressures on already fragile populations of species.
- Last Javan rhino in Vietnam killed for horn (theglobeandmail.com)
- Javan rhino ‘extinct in Vietnam’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Group: Last Javan rhino in Vietnam killed for horn (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- imabonehead: Group: Last Javan rhino in Vietnam killed for horn – Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com)
- Group: Last Javan rhino in Vietnam killed for horn (sfgate.com)
- Group: Last Javan Rhino in Vietnam Killed for Horn (abcnews.go.com)
- Javan rhino almost at extinction point (100gf.wordpress.com)
- Poaching update : Britain urges Asia to act over surging trade in rhinoceros horn (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Famous for Being Nearly Extinct: Meet the Javan Rhino (bushwarriors.wordpress.com)