New calves raise hopes for world's rarest rhino

A female Javan rhino and a calve pictured roaming in Ujung Kulon National Park
A female Javan rhino and a calve pictured roaming in Ujung Kulon National Park

Three critically endangered Javan rhino calves have been filmed in an Indonesian national park, raising hopes for the future of the world's rarest rhino after years of population decline.

One female calf and two males were spotted in recent months in Ujung Kulon , on Java island, and were all likely born in the past year, park chief Mohammad Haryono told AFP on Wednesday.

The were filmed with their mothers by cameras set up to track the shy creatures in a recently established sanctuary inside the park, he said.

They were all born from different mothers and both the parents and their youngsters looked healthy, the official added.

Haryono said the discovery of the calves—filmed in April, May and July—brings the population of the Javan rhino to 60, all of which live in Ujung Kulon.

"This is wonderful news, now we just need to ensure their protection," Widodo Ramono, head of conservation group the Indonesian Rhino Foundation, told AFP.

The Javan rhino, whose folds of loose skin give it the appearance of wearing armour plating, once numbered in the thousands and roamed across Southeast Asia.

Poaching and human encroachment on its habitat have led to a dramatic , as with other rhino species around the world, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has said the Javan rhino is "making its last stand".

Graphic on the Javan rhino
Graphic on the Javan rhino

Poaching in particular represents a severe threat, with fetching high prices on the black market for use in traditional Asian medicine.

The IUCN classifies the Javan rhino as "critically endangered".

Haryono said the calves were born inside the sanctuary, which was established last year in the park and comprises 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest and freshwater streams.

The animals had previously been living mainly in one corner of the park, an area of stunning natural beauty, but the sanctuary expanded the area suitable for them and relocated farmers to reduce the chances of animal-human conflict.

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© 2015 AFP

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