Animal Info - Javan Rhinoceros

(Other Names: Lesser One-horned or Lesser One-horned Asian Rhinoceros, Rhinocéros de la Sonde, Rinoceronte de Java)

Rhinoceros sondaicus

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Javan Rhino #1 (in Vietnam) (32 Kb JPEG) (WWF Cat Tien NP); Javan Rhino #2 (in Vietnam) (23 Kb JPEG) (WWF Cat Tien NP), Javan Rhino #3 (in Indonesia) (41 Kb JPEG) (Arkive)

The Javan rhinoceros ("rhino") weighs 1500 - 2000 kg (3200 - 4400 lb) and has a length of 3 - 3.5 m (10 - 11'). It has one horn and prominent folds in the skin, similar to the Indian rhino.  The horn grows onto a roughened area of the skull (rather than being "rooted" in the skull). The Javan rhino is hairless except for its ears and tail tip. Its thick gray skin is divided by deep folds to make a "saddle" over the neck. The single horn rarely exceeds 25 cm (10") long and is lacking in some females. 

The Javan rhino prefers tall grass and reed beds in lowland rain forests with a good supply of water and plentiful mud wallows. Formerly, it generally preferred low-lying areas. Although it now occupies hilly areas up to 2000 m (6550'), this likely is a result of being driven into suboptimal upland habitats due to the pressure of human settlement in lowland areas. In Vietnam it occurs on very steep hills covered with thick bamboo and rattan stands. The Javan rhino is primarily a browser. Its diet consists of shoots, twigs, young foliage and fallen fruit. It is diurnal and nocturnal. It remains near water and enjoys bathing and wallowing in mud. Javan rhinos are mostly solitary except for mating pairs and mothers with young. The male is probably territorial, marking his territory with dung piles and urine pools. He encounters potential mates at suitable muddy wallows.

Formerly, the Javan rhino was widespread and often abundant from Bangladesh east through Myanmar and southwest China to Vietnam and south through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia to Sumatra and Java (Indonesia). It has dwindled to only two known populations, in the Udjung Kulon National Park in Java (Indonesia) and the Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam. It may also still exist in other locations.

There are two major reasons for the Javan rhino's decline.  The first one is poaching of the rhino for its horn.  Rhino horn is valued highly for use in Oriental medicine (as a drug to reduce fever), and in Yemen horns are carved to make traditional dagger handles. The second reason is habitat loss due to clearing of lowland forest. The most critical threat to the Javan rhinos in Vietnam is the continued conversion of forestland into agricultural land

 


Tidbits

*** The Javan rhino is one of the world's rarest mammals.

*** For the first time, the Javan rhino was recently photographed by scientists in Vietnam using photo-trapping. This demonstrated the existence in Vietnam of the subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus that until recently had been believed to be extinct.  The only other subspecies is R. s. sondaicus, which is found in Java, Indonesia.

*** In 1934 the Javan rhino was said to be the rarest of all the earth's large mammals (La Monte & Welch 1934), and may remain so today (Burnie & Wilson 2001).

*** After World War II, Chinese poachers threatened the Javan rhino in the Udjung Kulon reserve. However, after a poacher was killed by a Javan tiger in the reserve, the poachers left for fear of the tigers (Boyle 1959). Unfortunately for the Javan rhinos (not to mention the tigers themselves), the Javan tiger is now extinct.

*** The Javan rhino can tolerate disturbed forest. Despite this fact, the few surviving rhinos have been forced to retreat to less desirable upland habitats because of the intense pressure from human settlement in its preferred lowland habitat.

*** The Javan rhino usually seeks to escape rather than attack an enemy, although when wounded or with a calf it may charge.

*** The Javan and Indian rhinos were thought to be the same species for many years. However, the Indian rhino is a little larger, its skin folds are slightly different and its skin is "knobby" as opposed to the smoother skin of the Javan rhino.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Javan Rhinoceros Is Currently Found:

2004: Known to occur in Indonesia (Java) and Vietnam. May be extinct in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. (Intl. Rhino Found. 2004, IUCN 2004)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

Until the middle of the 19th century, the Javan rhino was widespread and often abundant from Bangladesh east through Myanmar and southwest China to Vietnam and south through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia to Sumatra and Java, Indonesia. Because all three species of Asiatic rhinos (Indian, Javan and Sumatran rhinos) occurred in the same general region, and early reports failed to distinguish between them, it is impossible to be certain of the precise historical range. The last known specimens of the Javan rhino were shot in Myanmar in 1920 and in Malaysia in 1932, and it is known to have survived in Sumatra at least until 1959 (Simon & Geroudet 1970). In Java it was confined to the Udjung Kulon National Park by the 1930's due to expanding human populations (Java is a densely settled island with a population of more than 100 million people). Until recently, this remained the only known population, although there was speculation that it might exist in other locations, such as the Sundarbans, Brahmaputra Valley and Chittagong Hills, the Myanmar/Thailand border, southern Laos, the Loeser Reserve in Sumatra, Cambodia and Vietnam. However, rhinos from a population in Vietnam's Cat Tien National Park have recently been photographed using photo-trapping.

Distribution Map (36 Kb JPEG) (Intl. Rhino Found. 2004)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

There are two major reasons for the Javan rhino's decline.  The first one is poaching of the rhino for its horn.  Rhino horn is valued highly for use in Oriental medicine (as a drug to reduce fever (It is a myth that rhino horn is widely used as an aphrodisiac (Burnie & Wilson 2001))), and in Yemen horns are carved to make traditional dagger handles. The second reason is habitat loss due to clearing of lowland forest. The most critical threat to the Javan rhinos in Vietnam is the continued conversion of forestland into agricultural land (Poleti et al. 1999). Disease and shifts in the composition of vegetation in the Udjung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia have also given rise to concern.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The Javan rhino weighs 1500 - 2000 kg (3200 - 4400 lb). Its length is 3 - 3.5 m (10 - 11'). 

Habitat:

The Javan rhino prefers tall grass and reed beds in dense lowland rain forests with a good supply of water and plentiful mud wallows. Formerly, it generally preferred low-lying areas. Although it now occupies hilly areas up to 2000 m (6550'), this likely is a result of being driven into suboptimal upland habitats due to the pressure of human settlement in lowland areas. In Vietnam it occurs on very steep hills covered with thick bamboo and rattan stands. (Nowak 1999, WCMC et al. 2000, WWF Global Network 1999)

The Javan rhino occurs in both the Indo-Burma and Sundaland Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005) and the Eastern Indochina Dry & Monsoon Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

A female Javan rhino reaches sexual maturity at about 3 - 4 years, a male at about 6 years (Nowak 1999).

Gestation Period:

16 months (Burnie & Wilson 2001).

Birth Season:

Between the end of February and the end of April.

Birth Rate:

One calf is born at a time. Mature females probably do not breed more often than every 4 or 5 years. (Nowak 1999) 

Early Development:

The calf stays with the mother for about 2 years.

Maximum Age:

At least 21 years (captivity).

Diet:

The Javan rhino is primarily a browser. Its diet consists of shoots, twigs, young foliage and fallen fruit. In the course of feeding, branches up to 20 mm (0.8") thick are torn off, saplings are broken, and trees up to 15 mm (0.6") in diameter are uprooted. (Nowak 1999) 

Behavior:

The Javan rhino remains near water and enjoys bathing and wallowing in mud. It is diurnal and nocturnal.

Some Javan rhinos may travel 15 - 20 km (9 - 12 mi) within 24 hours. (Nowak 1999) 

Social Organization:

Little is known about the social behavior of the Javan rhino. Javan rhinos are mostly solitary except for mating pairs and mothers with young. The male is probably territorial, marking his territory with dung piles and urine pools. He encounters potential mates at suitable muddy wallows. (Burnie & Wilson 2001)

Density and Range:

Density

Formerly, Javan rhino population densities were greater than 0.3 individuals/sq km (0.8 individuals/sq mi) (Nowak 1999).

Range

Home ranges of the Javan rhino are small.  Individuals tend to have loosely defined centers of activity where they may spend several days at a time and to which they periodically return (Nowak 1999).

References

Anon. 1994a, Arkive, Boyle 1959, Burnie & Wilson 2001, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cumming et al. 1990, Curry-Lindahl 1972, Fitter 1974b, Focus 1996b, Focus 1998, Focus 2000, Focus 2002, Foose & van Strien 1997, Gee 1964, Humphrey & Bain 1990, Intl. Rhino Found. 2002, Intl. Rhino Found. 2004, Intl. Rhino Found. 2005, IRF 1996, IUCN 1967, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Khan et al. 1999, Khan et al. 2000, La Monte & Welch 1934, Macdonald 1984, Macdonald 2001, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Nowak 1999, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1964b, Oryx 1966e, Oryx 1968b, Oryx 1968c, Oryx 1972d, Oryx 1973e, Oryx 1974e, Oryx 1976e, Oryx 1977e, Oryx 1981b, Oryx 1982e, Oryx 1982f, Oryx 1994c, Polet et al. 1999, Santiapillai 1991, Schaller et al. 1990, Schuhmacher 1967, Shebbeare 1953, Simon & Geroudet 1970, Talbot 1960, WCMC et al. 2000, WCMC/WWF 1997, WWF Cat Tien NP, WWF Global Network 1999


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Last modified: November 26, 2005;

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