Indonesia tsunami raises fears for endangered Javan rhino

December 28, 2018
The latest killer tsunami in Indonesia has put pressure on conservationists to ramp up a longstanding plan to find a suitable secondary habitat for the Javan rhino

Indonesia's tsunami has raised fears that another deadly wave could wipe out the few dozen Javan rhinos still living in the wild, conservation authorities said Friday.

There are believed to be fewer than 70 of the critically in a not far from a rumbling volcano that triggered Saturday's killer wave.

None of the animals are believed to have been killed in the disaster—which left more than 400 people dead—but officials are warning that another deadly wave could slam into the stricken region.

That is putting pressure on conservationists at Ujung Kulon National Park, on the western tip of Indonesia's main island of Java, to ramp up a longstanding plan to find a suitable secondary habitat for the rhinos.

"It's become our duty to work harder to find a second habitat because the danger is real," national park chief Mamat Rahmat told AFP.

"We're lucky that the tsunami did not affect the Javan rhinos this time. But the threat is there and we need to act accordingly."

Widodo Ramono, head of the Rhino Conservation Foundation of Indonesia, added: "If you've only got one habitat and there's another tsunami, the rhinos could be wiped out completely."

Plans to find a second home for the species have been in the works for about eight years, with conservationists surveying areas all over Java and neighbouring Sumatra but so far without success, he said.

There are believed to be fewer than 70 Javan rhinos in a national park not far from a rumbling volcano that triggered Saturday's killer wave

The size of the habitat, climate, food and water sources and safety from poachers are among the key criteria, Rahmat said.

"There are still a lot of issues to be worked out," he added.

The ' current sanctuary in the park comprises some 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest and freshwater streams.

Several years ago, three calves were filmed in the national , raising hopes for the future of the world's rarest rhino after years of population decline.

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

But, like other rhino species across the world, poaching and human encroachment on its has led to a dramatic population decline.

Poaching in particular represents a severe threat, with rhino horns used in traditional Asian medicine fetching ever higher prices on the despite a lack of scientific evidence showing the horn has any medicinal value.

Explore further: New calves raise hopes for world's rarest rhino

Related Stories

New calves raise hopes for world's rarest rhino

September 9, 2015

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.

Critically endangered Javan Rhino dies in Indonesia

April 26, 2018

A Javan rhino has died in Indonesia, the environment ministry said Thursday, bringing the critically endangered mammals closer to extinction with just 60 believed to be still living in the wild.

Hope as rare rhino calves filmed in Indonesia

February 28, 2011

Hidden cameras have captured proof that Javan rhinos are breeding in Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park, the last redoubt for the endangered mammals, conservationists said Monday.

Four rhinos die after Chad conservation effort

November 6, 2018

Four out of six South African rhinos that were transferred to a park in southeast Chad in a bid to revive the endangered species have died, but not from poaching, conservationists say.

Recommended for you

Researchers come face to face with huge great white shark

January 18, 2019

Two shark researchers who came face to face with what could be one of the largest great whites ever recorded are using their encounter as an opportunity to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii.

Why do Hydra end up with just a single head?

January 18, 2019

Often considered immortal, the freshwater Hydra can regenerate any part of its body, a trait discovered by the Geneva naturalist Abraham Trembley nearly 300 years ago. Any fragment of its body containing a few thousands cells ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.