Indonesia: Cameras Used to Help Save Endangered Javan Rhino

Alina Musta’idah Jakarta Globe 17 Apr 12;

The World Wide Fund and International Rhino Foundation have placed 120 additional video cameras to capture images of endangered Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Park, the animal’s original habitat, in Banten.

The cameras were added to the 40 that were already in place. They are aimed at monitoring rhinos’ movements in an attempt to better identify and judge the size of the animal’s population.

“After Javan rhinos were declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011, the animal’s population in Ujung Kulon was the last in the world. We hope the additional cameras will be an important step to ensure their existence,” IRF director Susie Ellis said on Monday.

Earlier, camera traps in the park captured images of 35 Javan rhinos, five of them calves.

Researchers studying the images were able to identify 35 different rhinos, though the total number is likely higher.

The Javan rhino was once the most widespread of all Asian rhinoceroses, but it was nearly wiped out following the Krakatau volcano’s violent eruption in 1883.

The greatest threat they face today is from poachers and habitat destruction.

Experts estimate only 40 to 60 Javan rhinos remain in the park.

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

A recent survey of the rhinos has found far fewer females than males, a potential setback in efforts to save the species.

Video cameras set up in the eastern half of Ujung Kulon recorded 17 rhinos this year. Just four were female.

Mohammad Haryono, the head of Ujung Kulon National Park, said that with 160 cameras the observers could monitor not only rhinos but also other animals and human beings.

“The cameras will become key equipment to help increase the population of Javan rhinos in accordance with our conservation plan,” he said.

Haryono said officials could also take quick action if they saw people trying to kill endangered animals in the park.

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