Another Javan Rhino dies in Ujung Kulon

Apr 26, 2019

The conservation community is in mourning. Another Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) was recently found dead in its last remaining habitat in Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP), Banten province.

UKNP park authorities confirmed the death, with Monica Dyah Rahmaningsih from the UKNP Community Relations Division stating the decomposing remains of the endangered animal were found on 21 March 2019 by a patrol team in the Citadahan forest, a region in the southern part of the park with the highest population of Javan rhinos.

“There was indeed a death. The latest dead rhino was found in the Citadahan area at around midday. The team was on patrol when it came across the dead rhino,” Monica explained in a telephone call with Betahita on Thursday, 25 April 2019.

“The rhino was a male. Its age has yet to be confirmed, but it is thought to be a juvenile,” she added.

Monica explained the cause of death had yet to be determined. A necropsy had been carried out, but the UKNP park office was still awaiting the results of laboratory tests on samples taken from the rhino.

“What we did see was that the horn and body were intact. There were no external wounds, but there were signs of bleeding,” said Monica.

Monica added they were still investigating the possibility of disease being the cause of death. “If it was an illness, we will try to find out. When we know, we will release an official statement,” she said.

Last year, another Javan rhino named Samson was found dead in Pantai Karang Ranjang, Pandeglang district, also inside UKNP. Pathology tests revealed the adult male rhino had died from intestinal torsion (twisting of the large and small intestine). Bacterial microflora in the intestine caused the release of toxins, which had spread through the rhino’s body damaging its internal organs.

The Javan rhino, one of the world’s most endangered large mammals, is protected under Indonesian law. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Javan rhino as Critically Endangered (CR), meaning it is on the verge of extinction.

The most recent population estimate for the Javan rhino is around 68 individuals remaining in the wild, following two births in 2018. The current proportion is 29 adult males, 24 adult females, and 15 juveniles. With this latest death, the Javan rhino population in UKNP has fallen to 67 individuals.

Monica said the latest Javan rhino death was one of the conservation dynamics surrounding this endangered ruminant.

“This is part of the Javan rhino population dynamic. There are births, there are deaths. We just keep striving to do our best to protect them,” said Monica.

Meanwhile, UKNP Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Officer, Aris Budi Pamungkas confirmed news of the Javan rhino death in UKNP.

“I know, but don’t know the exact details,” he said in a telephone conversation with Betahita on Thursday, 25 April 2019.

Earlier, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Director General of Natural Resource and Ecosystem Conservation, Ir. Wiratno had stated he was tracking an investigation into a Javan rhino death in UKNP.

“We are tracking outcomes of the investigation. Later we will inform the media,” Wiratno said on 2 April 2019.  

Writer: Kennial Laia
Editor: Yudono Akhmadi
Photo: Stephen Belcher/International Rhino Foundation

 In a previous article, Betahita erroneously said Aris Budi Pamungkas was Head of Ujung Kulon National Park Office. It should have said Ujung Kulon National Park Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Officer.