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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Javan Rhinoceros
 
   
   

Order : PERISSODACTYLA
Family : Rhinocerotidae
Species : Rhinoceros sondaicus

Shoulder height : 1.6 to 1.8 metres
Head-body length : 3.0 to 3.2 metres
Weight : up to 2,000 kg

The Javan Rhinoceros, or Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros, is the larger of the two species of rhinoceros which occur in Southeast Asia. It reaches a shoulder height of 1.8 metres and can weigh up to 2,000 kg. In contrast, the Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis reaches just 1.3 metres in height and weighs up to 1,000 kg. The closest living relative to the Javan Rhinoceros is the much larger Indian or Greater One-horned Rhinoceros.

This critically endangered species is probably the world's rarest large mammal: as of 2019 the global population is estimated as just 72 individuals (which is a higher number than the 20 individuals that were estimated in the 1960's).

The historical range of the Javan Rhino once included many territories of Southeast Asia, but habitat loss and poaching for its horn have driven this species to near-extinction. With the loss of the last population from south Vietnam in 2010, the Javan Rhino now only survives in dense forest in Ujung Kulon National Park, on the western tip of the island of Java in Indonesia.

Formerly the species occurred in a variety of habitats, such as grassland and mixed forest, and at a range of elevations, from lowland to over 1,000 metres. Its survival in dense forest is probably more due to the protection afforded by such habitat, rather than this being the optimal habitat for which it is adapted.

As is typical for other species of rhinoceros, the Javan Rhino leads a solitary existence except when mating occurs or when young need to be raised.

Although encounters with this elusive animal are exceedingly rare, it is most frequently encountered close to water bodies, including mud wallows.

The remaining population of Javan Rhino on the Ujung Kulon peninsula appears to be well protected, but is at risk of acquiring infectious disease from domestic cattle and of catastrophic loss due to volcanic eruption and associated tsunami (the seismically active remnants of the volcanic island of Krakatoa lie just 60 km to the north).

Ujung Kulon National Park, which covers an area of 480 sq. km, may be at the maximum carrying capacity for this species. A carefully researched program of translocation of a few individuals to another area to establish an insurance population has received some consideration, however the lack of detailed knowledge of the animal's biology makes this a considerable challenge.


Figs 1 to 4 : Rare photos of Javan Rhinoceros, taken from a hide overlooking a mud wallow in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia in 2018.

Fig 5 : Dense lowland forest in Ujung Kulon National Park (circa 1997), behind a grassy clearing being grazed by domestic cattle.



References : M5


Links :

IUCN

Newly spotted calves boost Javan rhino population to 72

Jaw-dropping footage: conservationists catch Javan rhino in mud wallow



Javan Rhino images ゥ Robin Moore / Global Wildlife Conservation.



 

Fig 1
  
ゥ  Robin Moore / GWC
Fig 2
  
ゥ  Robin Moore / GWC
Fig 3
  
ゥ  Robin Moore / GWC
Fig 4
  
ゥ  Robin Moore / GWC

Fig 5