x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 September 2017

Endangered Javan rhinos caught on camera at Indonesia park

Javan rhinos, a species that was nearly wiped out by an 1883 volcano eruption, have been spotted in a park in Indonesia.

JAKARTA // In a rare piece of good news for a dying species, Indonesian officials said camera traps in a national park this year captured images of 35 Javan rhinos - five of them calves.

The presence of the calves, despite harsh conditions they are facing, "raised hope for the conservation of the Javan rhinos", said Yanto Santosa, a lecturer of biodiversity conservation and an adviser to the project.

It is still possible that more of the animals live in the Ujung Kulon National Park - the animal's original habitat - said Bambang Novianto, the director of biodiversity conservation at the forestry ministry.

The Javan rhino - once the most widespread of Asian rhinoceroses - was nearly wiped out when the Krakatoa volcano erupted in 1883, creating a 40-metre tsunami that inundated the park on Java island's western tip.

The greatest threat they face today is from poachers, habitat destruction and fierce competition for food with other animal species.

Experts believe there may be only 40 to 60 Javan rhinos left in the wild.

The project's dozens of video cameras yielded 160 clips of rhinos in total, said Mr Novianto.

"Scientists studying the images were able to identify at least 35 different rhinos - 22 males and 13 females," Mr Santosa said.

The World Wide Fund for Nature, which is a partner in the Ujung Kulon project, had reported earlier this year on its preliminary results.

It was not clear if the Indonesian government will reach its target of increasing the population of Javan rhinos to 70 to 80 by 2015.

Last year, three Javan rhinos were found dead within the 120,551-hectare park (almost five times the size of Ajman) and one of them was suspected to be the victim of poachers.

The last known Javan rhino in Vietnam was found dead in April, apparently after poachers killed it for its horn.

* Associated Press