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Jungle Camera Traps Reveal Secrets of World’s Rarest Rhinos

The Javan rhino is critically endangered and faces an extremely high risk of extinction with fewer than 60 left in the wild. The largest population of these rhinos, an estimated 50 animals, is found in some of the world’s most lush and dense rain forests inside Indonesia’s Ujung Kulong National Park.

Getting to know Javan rhinos
To better understand these rarely-seen animals, WWF and staff from Ujung Kulong launched the first project to install video cameras in strategic locations in this protected area in the south-western tip of the island of Java.  

The team completed the installation of 34 video camera traps in each of the known habitat blocks. A review of recent footage revealed a wealth of new information on these elusive animals. The cameras recorded both male and female Javan rhinos sharing the same mud wallow, proving that the sexes share the same territory. It also revealed rhino aggression towards another species, which had never been seen before.

The Indonesian project team has recorded video of nine individuals – including a mother and calf. Despite the footage, scientists are concerned. They have not seen any very young calves for several years.

Of the two populations left, the Indonesian population in Ujung Kulon National Park has the better chance of survival since it is the only one that still has proof of breeding. There have been no verified signs of Javan rhinos breeding in Vietnam’s Cat Tien National Park.

Hope for Javan rhinos
These video camera traps will continue to be an invaluable scientific tool for us to better understand the behavior and needs of this endangered species.

To conserve Indonesia’s Javan rhinos the government launched a rhino conservation strategy with WWF, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), Asian Rhino Project (ARP), Yayasan Badak Indonesia (YABI), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The goal is to secure a future for Javan rhinos by translocating individuals from Ujung Kulon to another suitable site to minimize the risk of local extinction.


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