New footage shows rare rhinos in Indonesia

Mar 05, 2009
Rhinos at Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java province. New infra-red footage captures hitherto unseen images of elusive Javan rhinos, the most endangered mammal in the world with less than 60 individuals believed to remain alive.

New infra-red footage released Thursday captures hitherto unseen images of elusive Javan rhinos, the most endangered mammal in the world with less than 60 individuals believed to remain alive.

The grainy video was released by environmental group WWF which has been monitoring the rhinos for about 20 years in the rugged Ujung Kulon National Park on the southern tip of Indonesia's Java island.

The clips show a mother and calf and a large male wallowing in various mud holes, revealing behaviour researchers had never seen before and helping with the identification of individual animals.

In one clip shot at night, a female rhino chases a wild pig away from her mud hole.

"These rhinos are very shy. In the last 20 years our team has only seen rhinos two or three times with their own eyes," WWF Asian rhino coordinator Christy Williams told AFP.

He said WWF had previously operated still cameras in the dense jungle but the rhinos -- which can weigh 2,300 kilogrammes (5,070 pounds) and measure over three metres (10 feet) in length -- were often frightened by the shutter and fled the area or attacked the cameras.

Under an expanded project to film the animals, 34 cameras with infra-red triggers which take video any time they sense movement in the forest have been painstakingly installed in likely rhino haunts.

Typically they are concealed in trees overlooking wallowing ponds and streams and most of the clips released Thursday show the animals wading or wallowing in mud.

"The videos are showing a lot of young animals but not many calves so even though there is evidence of breeding it is not enough," Williams said.

"A healthy rhino population should be increasing at about seven percent a year or about three or four calves, but here we are getting three or four calves every four or five years."

The WWF is identifying other suitable rhino habitat areas on Java with a view to resettling some individuals from Ujung Kulon to boost their chances of survival.

"This will help diffuse the danger of all the animals living in one place, which is risky because of the danger of catastrophic events like disease, eruptions from nearby volcanoes and other unforeseen disasters," International Rhino Foundation executive director Susie Ellis said.

Adhi Rachmat Hariyadi, who leads WWF-Indonesia's project in Ujung Kulon, said the camera project was helping "the most endangered large mammal species".

"Within a month since the new cameras were installed, we've already recorded video of nine individuals, including a mother and calf," he said.

"We are concerned because we have not seen many very young calves in Ujung Kulon National Park for several years and worry that the population may be dependent on two or three breeding females."

Rhino experts from around the world met in Indonesia earlier this week to discuss plans and progress on protecting rhinos.

"Action needs to be urgently taken because the rhino population has stagnated," Williams said.

Researchers said a smaller population of Javan rhinos in Vietnam's Cat Tien National Park no longer appeared to be breeding.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Kenya insists fight against poachers not lost

Mar 25, 2014

Kenya insisted Tuesday that it has not lost the battle against poaching, resisting calls from wildlife activists for the ongoing slaughter of elephants and rhinos to be declared a national disaster.

Counting the cost of East Africa's poaching economy

Mar 23, 2014

Organised crime gangs in East Africa are generating staggering profits smuggling ivory and rhino horn with impunity, experts say, threatening both an irreplaceable wildlife heritage and key tourism industries.

Poaching threatens savannah ecosystems

Feb 12, 2014

White rhinoceros may be extinct in twenty years with the current poaching rates. The loss of this megaherbivore is in itself a tragedy, but it may also have tremendous effects on the ecosystems they now live ...

Kenya poaching crisis a 'national disaster', says Leakey

Mar 19, 2014

Kenya must take drastic action to stem a surge of elephant and rhino poaching, veteran conservationist Richard Leakey warned Wednesday, lamenting that known ringleaders are operating with "outrageous impunity".

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Atom probe assisted dating of oldest piece of earth

(Phys.org) —It's a scientific axiom: big claims require extra-solid evidence. So there were skeptics in 2001 when University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience professor John Valley dated an ancient crystal ...

ISEE-3 comes to visit Earth

(Phys.org) —It launched in 1978. It was the first satellite to study the constant flow of solar wind streaming toward Earth from a stable orbit point between our planet and the sun known as the Lagrangian ...