Javan rhinoceros facing dire extinction threat: Study

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WASHINGTON: American researchers have confirmed that a species of Javan rhinoceros found in Vietnam are on the verge of extinction, with only 29 of them remaining. 

“We still have a chance to save the species but before we do anything, we have to determine the profile of the remaining group,” study leader Peter de Groot said.

Researchers from the Queens and Cornell Universities used genetic tools to determine that only Javan rhino was living in Vietnam in 2009, who was later found dead a year later.

The study confirmed the demise of the Javan rhinoceros population living in Vietnam by analysing animal dung collected with the assistance of special dung detection dogs. 

The researchers are now working to save a group of 29 Javan rhinoceroses currently living in a tiny area called Ujon Kolong in Indonesia.

They will use the rhinoceros feces to determine the age, sex and pedigree of this group. This study will provide a direction to try to save the remaining population of one of the most threatened large mammal species in the world. 

The research was published in Biological Conservation.

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First Baby Born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary

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IndonesiaThe International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is pleased to announce the birth of a bouncing baby malerhino born to Ratu, a twelve-year-old Sumatran rhino living at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park.

 The birth helps ensure the future of one of the world’s most endangered species. There are fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos living in Indonesia and Malaysia. This is the first birth of a Sumatran rhino in an Indonesian facility and the first birth in an Asian facility in 124 years.

At 12:40 am on Saturday, June 23rd, Ratu, one of the three adult female rhinos at Indonesia’s Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, gave birth to a 60-lb male calf.  Not only was this Ratu’s first baby, but it was the first Sumatran rhino ever born in captivity in Indonesia and only the fifth ever born in captivity worldwide.

The baby was born after a 16-month gestation period, which is about average for African and Asian rhino species.  Indonesian veterinarian, Dr. Dedi Candra, managed Ratu’s pregnancy on a daily basis, with help from Dr. Terri Roth of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, which has bred more Sumatran rhinos in captivity than any other institution.

This was the third pregnancy for Ratu, who miscarried her first two calves.

 Dr. Dedi Candra, head veterinarian and animal collections manager at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary has been monitoring Ratu’s pregnancy by weighing her weekly and conducting regular ultrasound exams, using methods developed by the Cincinnati Zoo, where the father, Andalas, was born in 2001.
To assist her in having a successful pregnancy, Ratu was prescribed a hormone supplement that was given orally every day. It was gradually withdrawn as the expected delivery date neared. Dr. Terri Roth, director of Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife and the vice president for IRF’s Asia programs, provided the protocol and dosage. Andalas’s mother, who also experienced pregnancy complications prior to his birth in the Cincinnati Zoo, was given the same hormone.Ratu's baby

The Sumatran rhino is seriously threatened by the continuing loss of its tropical forest habitat and hunting pressure from poachers, who kill rhinos for their valuable horns. The IRF operates Rhino Protection Units in two of the three remaining habitats to ensure that the wild population and its habitat are protected.  Every successful birth is critical for the survival of the species, which runs the risk of extinction by the end of this century

The baby’s father, Andalas, in fact, was born there in 2001.  After spending several years at the Los Angeles Zoo, Andalas was sent to Indonesia with hopes that he would breed Ratu and the other female rhinos in residence.

 The new baby was born in an enclosure (boma) constructed especially for this event, but he and his mother have access to a small forest garden as well.   Both remain under 24-hour video surveillance for health and safety reasons, and also have the benefit of visiting rhino specialists from Australia and the United States, who will remain at the sanctuary for the next few weeks.

Published on 25 Jun 2012 by

Ratu has handled the long pregnancy extremely well and is now proving to be an attentive, even-tempered mother.  Her keepers and veterinarians will keep a close eye on mother and baby in the months ahead, gathering critical information about maternal care and infant development, which is very sparse for this critically endangered species.

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“Please, watch the video below, then share with everyone you know…we must do everything we can to protect these magnificent animals!”

Published on 13 Jun 2012 by 

This movie was produced by UNTV in collaboration with the CITES Secretariat in an effort to raise public awareness of the current crisis faced by rhinoceros through illegal killing and international trade in rhino horn. The movie was be first shown on 18 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the Rio+20 Conference.

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Three Rhino Killers Arrested in India & More

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A rhino-killing attempt has been thwarted in India’s Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, thanks to a joint team of forest guards and police.

India’s Business Standard reports that a four-member gang accessed the Diplung forest range to kill rhinos in the wee morning hours, but three were nabbed following an exchange of gunfire with forest guards. adds that a .303 rifle and ammunition were recovered.

Rhinos killed in Tanzania

A mother rhino and her calf were slaughtered in Serengeti National Park, and apparently, the tragedy occurred nearly a month ago — but went unreported by park staff.

According to Reuters, four senior wildlife officials and 28 game wardens have now been suspended, including Serengeti’s chief warden and the acting director of the country’s national parks authority.

The female rhino was one of the five critically endangered Eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) translocated to Tanzania from South Africa in May 2010, as part of the Serengeti Black Rhino Repatriation Project sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Wildlife Without Borders” program, along with international partners.

Only three of the five rhinos are still alive, as “George” was killed for his horns in December 2010.

A statement released by USFWS shortly after George’s murder said that plans to translocate another 27 black rhinos to Tanzania were being “re-assessed”

Arrests in Southern Africa

Meanwhile, Angola Press released the name of a Vietnamese national arrested in Mozambique with seven rhino horns.

Doan Minh was headed to Hanoi via Bankok on a Kenya Airways flight when he was apprehended at Maputo’s main airport.

At least two suspects were arrested this week in South Africa for dealing in rhino horns.

In South Africa, a suspect identified by IOL as Dennis Struis was arrested for attempting to sell a rhino horn and was released on R5000 bail. He is expected to appear in court on July 24th.

Another suspect, Johan Masakwani Mundhlovu, was arrested and his case postponed until July 7th. Police confiscated a rhino horn, copper cables, two butcher knives, an axe and a 9mm pistol with twelve rounds of ammunition.

In addition, a gang of four suspects arrested in 2011 and linked to six rhino killings at Thabazimbi, Pienaarsrivier, Mokopane and Naboomspruit appeared in court.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) says that Chico Malesa, Johannes Malesa (brothers), Innocent Matjakesa and Archford Moyo are in custody while they await another appearance scheduled for June 19th.

Finally, South African safari operator Marnus Steyl, professional hunter Harry Claassens, and their Thai accomplices will be in court on Monday, June 4th.

Steyl and three Thai nationals — Chumlong Lemtongthai, Punpitak Chunchom and Tool Sriton — were arrested last year for using prostitutes to pose as trophy hunters in an illegal rhino horn laundering scheme.

Claassens was arrested earlier this month, and Steyl has also been linked to South Africa’s lion bone trade.

At least 227 rhinos have been killed in South Africa since the beginning of the year.

One-horned rhinos of Asia

Although once widespread throughout Asia, from Pakistan to the Myanmar border and possibly into southern China, greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicorns) now exist in just two countries: India and Nepal.

Thanks to the efforts of the International Rhino Foundation and their partners, the population of greater one-horned rhinos is on the rise.

IRF’s efforts to increase rhino numbers are also underway in Indonesia, home to the world’s only known population of Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) — which is close to just 40 individuals. Vietnam’s subspecies of Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was declared extinct in 2011.

At one time, Javan rhinos were found throughout Southeast and Southern Asia and southern China.

Learn more about IRF’s work with these two rhino species — and how you can help — in this exclusive interview with the Executive Director of IRF, Dr. Susie Ellis: The podcast of “Saving the One-Horned Rhinos of Asia” is also available on iTunes.

Podcast & Source: Planetsave (

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