European hunter with a dead Javan Rhino in 1895.

European hunter with a dead Javan Rhino in 1895.

The IUCN Red List

Critically Endangered Javan Rhinoceros R. sondaicus was, until recently, found in only two populations. One, in Ujung Kulon National Park in western Java, Indonesia, is estimated to number fewer than 50 animals based on a 2008 census and comprised only the subspecies R. s. sondaicus.

Javan rhino ranges.

Fragile population

Another population was only discovered by scientists in 1989 in a forest location in southern Viet Nam at a time when it was widely assumed that no rhinos could have survived the years of conflict in the country.

This area became proclaimed as Cat Tien National Park, and until relatively recently held the last estimated five to 12 animals of the only other surviving Asian continental mainland population of the Javan Rhinoceros subspecies R. s. annamiticus. Since then, this remnant population appeared to be in steady decline, based on the number of camera trap photos obtained in the area.

Vietnamese subspecies of Javan Rhino Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus. (Photo: World Wildlife Fund)

July 8, 2004, photo taken by a trap camera shows the last rhino in Vietnam in Cat Tien National Park in Lam Dong Province, southern Vietnam. (Photo: World Wildlife Fund)

Wink out

A World Wildlife Fund project using sniffer dogs to find evidence of rhino presence led to the discovery in April 2010 of a rhino carcass with a gunshot wound in the leg. The horn had been removed from the carcass. Genetic tests found that the last 22 dung samples collected between 2009 and 2011 had all originated from this one animal. Hence, with the poaching of this last known rhino for its horn, as of October 2011, rhinos in Viet Nam are presumed to be extinct.

Park director Tran Van Thanh said that while some of his rangers failed to fulfill their duties, it is impossible for them to stop all of the estimated 100,000 people living near the park from hunting exotic animals when the average farmer there earns around 150,000 dong ($7.50) per day.

The Park has had no sightings, footprints or dung from live rhinos since the last known animal living there was found dead last April.

The small remaining population of Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia are the last known living members of the species, with none in captivity.