Ujung Kulon National Park :: The Javan rhinoceros

WHS#608 | Ujung Kulon | Tourist Map | Travel Guide | Photo & Video | News Update

Javan rhinoceros

The Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is one of the rarest species of mammals and one of the most endangered rhinoceros species, with fewer than 60 animals believed to exist in two known populations. Between 40 and 60 individuals inhabit Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, Indonesia, and between three and five individuals are part of a likely non-viable population in the Cat Loc section of Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam.

Because Javan Rhinos inhabit dense tropical forests, they are not easy targets for poachers with guns. But they are vulnerable to poachers who use snares and traps to capture and kill the rhino so its horn can then be removed.

The area now known as Ujung Kulon National Park is the only remaining lowland forest site in Java. It received modest protection status in 1910 when it was declared a hunting reserve. In 1921, its status was upgraded into a nature reserve, and in 1980, it was declared as one of the first five national parks in Indonesia. In 1992, the Park and the Krakatau archipelago were declared Indonesia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since the establishment of the Ujung Kulon peninsula as a Wildlife Reserve and later a National Park, considerable emphasis has been placed on studying and monitoring the Javan rhino population. Every few years, a census has been conducted using track analysis along transects. The population appears to have peaked in about 1980 at about 63 animals. After 1980, the population stabilized slightly below the peak, between 50 and 60 animals, and now is presumed to be between 40 and 60 animals and has not grown since that time. It is possible that the population has saturated its carrying capacity and no longer had potential for expansion within the area available – or, perhaps, other factors such as disease may play a role. Ujung Kulon is a small area and the total habitat available for the rhino is probably no more than about 30,000 hectares, for an average density of about one rhino per 400 hectares. Compared to other large forest herbivores, this is a normal figure at the high end of the range (Sumatran rhinos are generally 1 per 700-1000 ha, Malayan tapirs are one per 400-500 ha).

Although the Javan rhinos living in Ujung Kulon are protected by law, they are still seriously threatened by poaching and human encroachment. Pressure on natural resources is increasing in throughout conservation areas in Indonesia, including in Ujung Kulon, while the financial and organizational support for the park and its staff is being reduced by government. Further, the decentralization of management of natural resources to the district government level puts pressure on local governments to generate revenue. This often is done with a short-term view in favor of natural resource management practices which provide an immediate return, but are unsustainable. Additionally, rhino conservation is merely a limited part of the many activities of regular wildlife staff and existing government staff of protected areas simply do not have the time, flexibility and resources to concentrate on the intensive patrols and intelligence work required to protect the rhinos.

Source link