Why Javan Rhinoceros Joins Endangered Species list?

The Javan Rhinoceros, also known as Sunda Rhinoceros or 1-horned Rhinoceros is a species of Rhinoceros that is now endangered and very rare. The Javan Rhinoceros belongs to the same species of Indian Rhinoceros which has similar skin which is mosaic and armour kind.

These rhinoceros were once widespread in South East Asia and mainly in Java and Sumatra and were even present in India and China, however, due to human greed and its use in traditional Chinese medicine, the numbers steeply declined with only 1 known population in the wild.

Javan Rhinoceros is probably the most critically endangered mammals out in the wild, to say the Javan Rhinoceros in Vietnam’s Cat Tien National Park was declared as extinct in the year 2011.

The decline in the Rhinoceros population is mainly due to poaching for its horn which is believed to have many cures according to traditional Chinese medicine. In the black market, the horns were sold to as much as around $30,000 per kg. 

Another reason is due to its loss of natural habitat and due to the Vietnam War which made the population declined steeply without any recovery.

Taxonomy of Javan Rhinoceros

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Perissodactyla
  • Family: Rhinocerotidae
  • Genus: Rhinoceros
  • Species:  R. Sondaicus
  • Binomial Name: Rhinoceros sondaicus

The Javan Rhinoceros is smaller compared to their Indian counterparts and it is nearly the size of Black Rhinoceros. These are the second largest mammals in the Java region after Asiatic Elephants.

The length of the Javan Rhino is around 2 to 4 meters and stood up to a height of 1.4-1.7m. Adult rhinos usually wear around 900-2300 kgs however, accurately it cannot be calculated.

Similar to Indian Rhinos, Javan Rhino’s have single horn (other rhinos have 2 horns) however, the horn of Javan Rhinos are small comparatively which is usually 20cms. Only male rhinos have horns. They have a good range of sense of smell and hearing, however, their eyesight is poor. In wild they are estimated to live around 30-45 years.

The body is hairless, with grey-brown skin folding in the shoulder, back, and rump. They have a natural mosaic pattern and have a saddle shape over the shoulder. They have lower incisors which are sharp which are used for fights. Behind the incisors, there are molars that are mainly used for chewing the food.

Distribution and Habitat

The Javan Rhinoceros currently are over 100 in captive, however, the latest reports are yet to be ascertained and only 1 is wild, they once were found over Java and Sumatra regions spread across India and China. Their habitat is primarily dense and lowland rainforests, grasslands with proximity to the river.

Their primary diet is plants, as they are herbivorous eating various plant species be it shoots, twigs, fallen fruit, or foliage. It is estimated that the Rhinos need approximately 50KG of food daily and similar to other Rhinos’ these also need salt in their diet hence it is noted that they drink seawater for salt intake.

The Javan Rhinoceros went extinct in Cambodia during WWII, extinct in India during the early 20th Century and by end of Vietnam War they were believed to be extinct, however, in the late 1980s, some species were found in Cat Tien area in Vietnam.  They were hunted to extinction in the Malay Peninsula and are now in the list of critically endangered species.

The Male Javan Rhinoceros mark their territories by urine spraying. Sometimes, they scrap the ground as a form of communication. There are no natural predators, except for humans for these rhinoceros.

They have fewer vocalizations compared to Sumatran Rhinoceros, also extensive study cannot be conducted as they are difficult to approach as they turn aggressive when approached.

How many Javan Rhinoceros left in the world?

There are 72 Javan Rhinoceros left on this planet as per some researches.

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