Javan Rhinoceros: The Rarest Biggest Mammal in The World

With less than 60 individuals left in the protected area of Ujung Kulon in Java Island, Indonesia, this shy and solitary animal is in the brink of extinction. What makes this species of rhino different is the presence of only a single horn on its snout and its pre-historic looking skin fold.

I saw a mummy of Javan Rhino (Rinoceros Sondaicus) a few weeks ago when visiting a zoological museum near my hometown. This rhino was so big and looked so alive. Our tour guide explained that this big animal was the last Javan Rhino found in the wild. In 1920s there was a pair of rhino living in West Java’s mountain. The female was killed by poachers, leaving the male sad and lonely. The Dutch’s government who ruled the country at the time decided to shoot the male to death before it was killed by poachers. The body of the male rhino was then taken to the museum and mummified so that next generation can witness the greatness of this animal.

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Description

Javan rhino’s appearance is closely similar to Indian rhino, but is smaller.  It has grey color and a single horn. The horn is about 25cm long and smaller in females. Skin folds on its body give it the appearance of armored plates. The weight ranges between 900 – 2,300 kg. The body can be as long as 3m and its height can reach 170 cm.  The animal can live until 30-40 years.  

Image from author.

Habitat

Javan rhino’s major habitat is lowland tropical rain forest with plentiful mud wallows and water supply. 400 years ago, Javan rhino was widespread from India to South East Asia including Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Sumatra and Java. Nowadays, it can only be found in Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia and a very small number live in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam.

Image via Wikipedia

Lifestyle

Javan rhino is extremely shy. It is also a solitary animal except for mating pairs or mothers with the young. It is not easy to take pictures of this animal, as it will usually flee at the sound of the shutter.

Current status

Increased human population and poaching have pushed Javan Rhino to extinction at alarming rate.  Loss of habitat due to logging and agriculture have posed major problem. Various parts of Rhino’s body are highly in demand as constituents of traditional medicine.  The horns are used as aphrodisiac or to make knife handles. The horns are found in the black market for about $ 4,000 per kilogram, a lot of money for local villagers.

Image via Wikipedia

Long gestation period; with one mature female give birth to only one offspring every four years, made breeding difficult. Slow breeding means that even the death of only one rhino can fasten a spiral downward into extinction.

Conservation effort

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Efforts need to be made, not only to protect existing rhinos but also to increase their numbers. Ujung Kulon National Park in Java Island, Indonesia, one of the world’s natural heritage sites, is the home for around 50 – 60 Javan Rhinos. The Park is guarded by a “Rhino Protection Unit”. 

However, this park is very close to the Krakatau, an active volcano in Sunda strait. Should this volcano erupts, it may cause a tsunami, earthquake or bring along diseases that could endangered the species. A proposal had been made to make a second conservation area somewhere in Java island.  Second population will surely increase survival chance of Javan Rhino. Hopefully the plan materialized soon, so that our children and children’s children can still see this wonderful animal.  

Image via Wikipedia

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24 Responses to “Javan Rhinoceros: The Rarest Biggest Mammal in The World”
  1. Darla Beck Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Interesting article.


  2. Annie Hintsala Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Good piece on an animal I really didn’t know about.


  3. OhSugar Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Wow! Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Aldrin A Wilding West Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Sad to say I hadn’t heard of this rhino until reading this article. Even more sad that I’ll probably never see one alive. A story that’s being repeated the world over as man destroys what was natural habitat. I suppose it could be argued that this is an evolution for man, so is natural in itself, but I think man has a shock coming for what he’s done to his planet.


  5. Lady Sunshine Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Let me get this straight. We are killing these creatures for their horns so they can be used as aphrodisiacs???? When will mankind learn? What will happen when we are on the brink of extinction? So much of nature is dying out, we humans will be the only ones left. What a lonely existence that would be! Wildlife enriches this planet and our lives, but since their “inferior” to us, their expendable. Very, very tragic. Great article, Yovita. Your endangered species pieces will open up some eyes, at least.


  6. Guy Hogan Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    It is a sad day for humans when we wipe out other life forms for such silly reasons.


  7. Mr Ghaz Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Excellent!!..well done!!..this was very well written and highly informative article..wonderful stories of Javan Rhino..a very interesting read..nice pics too..I liked it! thanks for sharing.


  8. Shirley Shuler Says...

    On September 10, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Mankind will never learn, it’s a sad fact of life but true, an excellent article Yovita!!


  9. monica55 Says...

    On September 11, 2009 at 1:09 am

    An Excellent and very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.
    Monica.


  10. Joe Dorish Says...

    On September 11, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Thank you Yovita! Had never heard of the Javan Rhino before reading this and I hope it survives!


  11. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On September 11, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I hope the javan rhino survives. We are losing more and more of our animals every year.


  12. Lostash Says...

    On September 11, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Such a shame…what an amazing animal. Lets hope the future is brighter. Nice article.


  13. papaleng Says...

    On September 12, 2009 at 12:38 am

    interesting article.


  14. Christine Ramsay Says...

    On September 12, 2009 at 10:30 am

    It will be such a shame if this creature doesn’t survive because of man’s greed. Thank you for raising our awareness. A very well written and informative piece.

    Christine


  15. valli Says...

    On September 12, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Fascinating info.


  16. PR Mace Says...

    On September 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Interesting read. Well presented.


  17. CHAN LEE PENG Says...

    On September 13, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Interesting read here. I heard of this animal before. Thanks and have my liked it.


  18. kate smedley Says...

    On September 14, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Wonderful article Yovita – I really hope this animal surives.


  19. Olivia Reason Says...

    On September 14, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Rhinos are interesting- their size catches your attention. I can’t even wrap my mind around a living thing that big.
    I need to visit the zoo.


  20. Juancav Says...

    On September 14, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Amazing Rhinos ,Must be preserved.


  21. Poetic Enigma Says...

    On September 14, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Very interesting article!


  22. Jane Jane Says...

    On September 15, 2009 at 8:31 am

    I thought elephants are the biggest mammal but now I know. thanks.=)


  23. K Kristie Says...

    On September 24, 2009 at 8:15 am

    The story about the last rhino that was killed almost got me misty eyed. Thanks for this wonderful article.


  24. Patrick Regoniel Says...

    On November 26, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I thought they no longer exist. These are remarkable animals that need to be conserved.


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