- Status: Critically Endangered
- Known as: Javan Rhino, Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros, Sunda Rhinoceros.
- Estimated numbers left in the wild: 60 or less.
Table of Contents
Armoured with a thick, deeply folded hide, the Javan rhino has a prehistoric look that seems to evoke the earlier periods of Mammals’ age. This rhinoceros weighs 900 to 2,300 kilograms, stands 1.5 to 1.7 meters tall, and measures between 2 and 4 meters long.
The animal’s single horn is too short to be used as a weapon, at only 20 centimeters or less. Instead, it appears to be used as a specialized tool for hooking high-growing plants to bring them down to a level where the rhino can eat them or push through dense vegetation.
When the rhino is forced to fight, it slashes with its lower incisors rather than attempting to use its horn. Food harvesting is accomplished with a prehensile upper lip.
During the heat of the day, the Javan rhino lies in mud wallows to stay cool or bathes in water. When the cooler evening comes, these rhinoceroses begin to forage, eating leaves, shoots, twigs, and any fruit they can find. They need regular access to salt licks and will drink ocean water to get salt if necessary.
They are very shy and retiring, and any human activity is enough to make them flee into the most inaccessible area available. The Javan rhino lives most frequently in tall, thick grass or beds of reeds within lowland jungle and rainforest.
Javan rhinos tend to be solitary, though they do not seem hostile to others of their species and may sometimes casually associate in small groups at salt licks or favorite wallows. Male rhinos mark their territories with dung piles and by mauling vegetation.
Female rhinos are ready to have their first calf at four years and are likely to reproduce every five or six years thereafter.
See Related: African Elephant
The Javan rhinoceros is found in Java and possibly in Vietnam. However, the Vietnamese population is probably extinct or soon because there are no adult males in the population to allow breeding. This rhino is found in extremely lush lowland rainforests, though it will live at higher altitudes if driven there by humans.
See Related: Environmental Organizations in Africa
Extinction may loom for the Javan rhino, which has slowly been pushed back over the centuries by hunting and habitat destruction. Today, these problems have reached crisis proportions.
The tiny remaining population is still being hunted to supply the insatiable Chinese market with “medicinal” rhino horns. Furthermore, the jungle is being cut down, and habitat fragmentation is underway.
See Related: Endangered Species in Oklahoma
Conservation of this critically endangered rhino species is spearheaded by the International Rhino Fund and the World Wildlife Foundation. Some of the conservation efforts include working for more sustainable farming in the area and finding alternative sources of Chinese medicine that do not involve shooting rhinos.
Future projects that are now being worked on include creating more sanctuaries and devising plans that will make existing sanctuaries safer and better protected for this million-year-old species of rhinoceros.
See Related: Conservation vs. Preservation
Save the Rhino
Save the Rhino works with local partners in Asia and Africa to protect the five different rhino species. They support anti-poaching activities, monitoring, environmental education, community conservation, translocations, and captive breeding.