Java, Indonesia Map
Javan-rhino
Java, Indonesia Map

The Javan Rhino:
Wonder of the Wild

With a broad head, powerful legs and deep folds of armor-like skin, the Javan Rhino stands over five feet tall at the shoulder and weighs nearly two tons. It’s the second largest terrestrial animal in Indonesia (after the Asian Elephant).

Living on twigs, shoots and fallen fruit, Javan Rhinos are incredibly shy and solitary. And despite having poor eyesight, their exceptional sense of hearing and smell helps them to find food and elude humans. In fact, many a scientist has traveled countless miles to study this mysterious species in its forest home, only to return without catching a single glimpse. 

Not so for GWC’s very own Dr. Barney Long and Dr. Robin Moore, who were lucky enough to encounter the Javan Rhino in the wild. Check out Long’s and Moore’s accounts of their incredibly rare, face-to-face encounters. As Dr. Moore put it, “I have never before experienced a feeling of being unable to press the shutter on my camera, paralyzed by the gravity of a moment.”

Undoubtedly, Dr. Moore’s awe came from knowing that there are only 68 Javan Rhinos left on Earth. And because they all live in one small area – in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia – they are classified as Critically Endangered. Such a small population, in such limited space, is extremely vulnerable to threats such as poaching, disease and natural disasters.

At GWC we remain optimistic by doing what we do best: taking bold action alongside global and local partners to protect and restore biodiversity around the world. For the Javan Rhino, the signs are encouraging: their total population has increased slowly but steadily over the past decade. 

Learn more about what we're doing to protect the Javan Rhino below.

(Top Photo: Javan Rhino, Robin Moore/GWC)

Wild Facts
One of the rarest and most elusive large animals on Earth.
The second largest terrestrial animal in Indonesia after the Asian Elephant.
Very shy animal that loves to wallow in mud.

Restoring the Javan Rhino

Bringing the Javan Rhino back from the brink of extinction is a huge challenge that requires conservation expertise across many disciplines. That’s why GWC is partnering with other respected conservation organizations to achieve this ambitious goal:

 

We have a plan to increase the Javan Rhino population
to at least 80 individuals in at least two sites by 2025.

 

To do so, we are partnering with WWF-Indonesia, the International Rhino Foundation, and the Indonesian Rhino Foundation (YABI), three organizations with vast Javan Rhino conservation experience and close working relationships with the Ujung Kulon management board and local communities. In addition, Wildlife Protection Solutions recently joined the team to increase efficiencies through technological solutions.

Current conservation efforts are working, but need to be significantly scaled in order to provide the Javan Rhino with the best possible chance of recovering to a viable population size. As it stands today, an outbreak of disease, a tsunami, an eruption of the nearby Anak Krakatau volcano, or a concentrated poaching epidemic could wipe out this species forever.

Together, we are enacting two parallel strategies:

  • Protect and expand the current population in Ujung Kulon National Park.
  • Establish a second population of Javan Rhinos, so not all rhinos are in the same basket.

To achieve these strategies we are working on the following:

Prevent poaching

Highly trained, 4-person Rhino Protection Units run by YABI, deactivate poacher traps, apprehend illegal intruders and investigate crime scenes. While supporting the RPU operations we are also aiming to enhance current protection mechanisms through the design of a real-time protection system. Using a combination of connected camera-traps and handheld devices for patrol teams, data will be sent in near real-time to headquarters where park staff can launch and coordinate rapid responses to incursions.

Camera trapping in Ujung Kulon Natural Park

Setting up a real-time GSM connected camera-trap in UKNP. (Photo by Barney Long)

Strengthen park management

Increase effectiveness by collaborating on a clear and consistent park management framework.

Disease reduction

Develop a plan to address the spread of disease from nearby cattle in partnership with local communities and park management authority.

Build community support

Engage local communities to develop long-term solutions to poaching, disease spread, and limited park space for rhinos.

Rhino monitoring

Maintain and build upon the current monitoring system established in 2013. Maintain at least 120 camera traps, and provide ongoing monitoring and analysis support. We aim to enhance this system to provide near real-time data transfer to enable monitoring of individual rhinos on a timely basis.

Establish a second population

Establish a second population of rhinos to reduce the density of animals in Ujung Kulon thus increasing their breeding rates. Additionally a second population will reduce the risk of all animals in one location and provide one population away from volcanic and tsunami risk.

Solutions

Your support will help provide these essential initiatives and tools to restore the Javan Rhino population.

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Population monitoring

Enhance the existing monitoring system to provide near real-time data transfer and analysis of individual rhinos on a timely basis.

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Poaching Prevention

Maintain and enhance current patrolling system with updated equipment and transportation. Provide connectivity across the park to facilitate radio communications and data transfer to permit near real-time management of protection efforts. Improve living and working conditions of rangers.

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Disease Reduction

Prevent livestock disease via vaccinations and establish a community-based livestock management program.

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Habitat Improvement

Scale up the control of Arenga palm, a native palm that shades out ground vegetation and reduces the amount of food available to Javan Rhinos. Encourage understory recovery through the planting of rhino browse plants from community nurseries.

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Second Population

Find and support local champions to maintain and drive the establishment of a second population of Javan Rhinos.

Get The Details

Stay Wild. Stay Connected.