Last chance to see Javan rhinos? One hopes not …

May 29, 2008

News that conservation group WWF has captured rare footage of the critically endangered Javan rhino is bound to set a few hearts racing in the wildlife loving community.

You can view the footage of the mother and calf here.

With fewer than 60 believed to be left in the wild, the footage provides a fleeting glimpse into the secretive world of this one-horned creature on its dwindling home turf on the Indonesian island of Java, where most reside.

The Javan is the world’s rarest rhino species and is probably the rarest large mammal species in the world.

Rhinos everywhere — there are five extant species — are threatened though the news over the past few years has been mixed.

In Africa, the southern white or square-lipped rhino has made a remarkable recovery after it was pushed to the brink of extinction a century ago. It now numbers several thousand mostly in South Africa. 

But the nothern subspecies of the white rhino is almost extinct in the wild with just a few animals left in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The black rhinos of Africa have seen their numbers rebound in the south but may be extinct in west Africa.

Habitat destruction and hunting for their horns, which are valued for medical reasons in Asia and to make daggar handles in Yemen, have been the chief culprits leading to this sad state of affairs.

So the footage caught on WWF’s remote cameras of the Javan rhinos is cause for celebration.

The late great science fiction writer Douglas Adams once co-authored a delightful non-fiction book about some of the world’s rarest wildlife creatures called “Last Chance to See.”

So savour this footage of the Javan rhino and hope we have other chances to see them in the wild in the future.

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