A recent report has raised the alarm about the status of one of the most Critically Endangered rhinos on Earth, the Javan rhino. With less than 100 individuals left in the wild, the Javan rhino’s entire remaining population is found in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. This makes the monitoring and protection of this fragile population of the utmost importance, with Indonesia’s environment ministry heavily involved in their care. Hundreds of camera traps have been installed around Ujung Kulon to help count the rhinos.
Since 2011, the government has reported a slow but steady increase in Javan rhinos, from 35 individuals to around 72 today. While this has been hailed as a tremendous success, a recent investigative report by Auriga Nusantara, an Indonesian environmental NGO, has discovered that this official count of Javan rhinos has only recorded new rhino births, while neglecting to mention any dead or missing rhinos. The report found that at least 18 rhinos have not been recorded by camera traps in years, yet they were still included in official population counts. This is troubling news, as it calls into question the accuracy of Javan rhino population estimates and the transparency of the agencies assigned to manage the only remaining pocket of Javan rhinos left on Earth.
Vigilance and transparency are essential when managing an animal population with such low numbers, since even the slightest inaccuracy or faulty practice can alter the effectiveness of conservation groups to develop management plans. The RRF has supported work to safeguard Javan rhinos and is highly invested in the recovery of the species.
Read the full article about this investigative report here.