Nearly Extinct Rhino Babies Caught on Video

There may be as few as 40 Javan rhinos left in the wild — and in the world as none currently are living in captivity. (They may be the rarest large mammals on the planet.) Recently a motion-activated video camera in an Indonesian national park caught two very young Javan rhinos with their mothers on tape. Not only are they extremely rare, they also only give birth about once every four or five years.

“The videos are great news for Javan rhinos and prove that they are breeding in Ujung Kulon. There are no Javan rhinos in captivity — if we lose the population in the wild, we’ve lost them all,” said Dr. Eric Dinerstein, chief scientist at WWF-US. (Source: WWF)

(If you want to support Javan rhino conservation, you can donate to the World Wildlife Fund.)

Javan rhinos used to be widespread in various parts of Asia, but poaching decreased their numbers drastically. Traditional Chinese “medicine” has driven the price of rhino horn to as much as $30,000 per kilogram even though scientifically it has been proven to have no medicinal significance. The main ingredient of rhino horn is simply keratin, the same protein found in human fingernails so consuming rhino horn powder would have the same effect as eating one’s own fingernails. The superstitious false belief in rhino horn has fueled the poaching of rhinos for 2,000 years.

The news is especially good because Javan rhinos are solitary and prefer to stay far from humans, which makes it very difficult to study them. Javan rhinos live about 30-45 years in the wild,  and are herbivores. Any Javan rhinos that were kept in captivity did not do well, dying at about half their lifespan in the wild. They have no known predators other than humans.

Another large mammal on Java already went extinct — the Javan tiger. They were all shot, and their habitat was converted for agriculture. The situation for the Javan rhinos is dire, but at least there are conservationists trying to protect them. They are still at risk from poachers who want to cash them in for a quick sale on the black market.

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102 comments

Tim U.
Tim Upham4 years ago

If their population can reach 60 individuals, then they will go beyond the population carrying capacity of Ujung Kulon National Park in Java. Then they can be reintroduced into their former habitat. I would like to see them reintroduced into Sumatra, where the last Javan rhino was shot there in 1928. Not Vietnam, because they have the worst poaching of wildlife in their national parks, which lead the last year's extinction of Javan rhinos in Vietnam.

Waltraud U.
Waltraud U.4 years ago

I do not believe in the WWF - i think they distroy first for can save after !
Like the wolf in sheepscloth !
Thank you !

Claudette Colbert

IF AMATEURS CAN CATCH THESE UNIQUE CREATURES IN THE WILD, THEN THE PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE PROTECTING THEM SHOULD BE DOING THEIR JOBS, WHICH THEY ARE NOT, AS THE RHINO POPULATION, AS WELL AS TOO MANY SPECIES OF GOD'S CREATURES ARE EITHER ON THE EXTINCT LIST, OR SOON TO BE. IT'S GOT TO STOP, AND WE'VE GOT TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN, AS WELL AS INSIST ON BETTER PROTECTIONS FROM THE WORLD'S GOVERNMENTS. GOD DESERVES THIS MOST CERTAINLY.

PAM S.
PAM S.4 years ago

IT ALWAYS AMAZES ME THE CRUELTY OF HUMAN BEINGS. THEY ARE SO SELFISH AND DON'T GET IT THAT THEY ARE KILLING ALL OF GOD'S CREATURES. SHAME ON THEM...

Ida J.
Ida J.5 years ago

I cant believe there is not more of them :/

Ida J.
Ida J.5 years ago

thank you

Melinda K.
Past Member 5 years ago

do beautiful, its really tragic something so unique and awe inspiring can be extinct because of moronic superstitions and greed for money

Hope Holtum
Hope Holtum5 years ago

they are so precious. hope their numbers increase soon

Klaus P.
Klaus Peters5 years ago

What now, how can 40 Javan Rhinos survive and multiply without inbreeding, a lost case. Thanks for nothing Indonesia. That goes for all your wild life, greed.

Ioana Boca
Ioana B.5 years ago

only 40 Rihnos left.?!!!this is so tragic!!!so sad...