Endangered rhino population growing in Java national park


A complete package for travelers who enjoy outdoor activities is what awaits at the Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and offers hiking, canoeing, snorkeling, and camping, just to name a few activities. It is the largest remaining area of lowland rainforests in the Java plain where several species of endangered plants and animals can be found, with the Java rhinoceros being the most seriously under threat.

The Java Rhino population at the Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java has increased 50 percent in the last 5 years due to a government-private partnership, said Mohammad Haryono, Head of the Ujung Kulon National Park and Coordinator of the Working Group for the Conservation of the Java Rhino (rhinoceros sondaicus).

The Working Group consists of government officials of the Park, non-governmental agencies, companies, and academics.

Video cameras placed at several locations in this extensive park have recorded 35 rhinos, among which are a number of young ones. This means that efforts to save the endangered rhino are creating results. There is a small community that sincerely cares for the conservation of the animals, continued Haryono. Rhinos are very shy and elusive animals, very rarely seen live. In the dense jungle, their images can be captured only on strategically placed videos.

In the past 12 months, the Working Group has concentrated not only on the growth of the rhino population but also ensured improved welfare of the local population in surrounding villages through training and education for alternative livelihood, so as to stop poaching into the park. Among the projects is the construction of a 3.4 kilometer bamboo pipeline to supply clean water to remote villages.

Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), whose company is involved in the conservation of the Java rhino, added that conservation efforts need a strategic approach, which includes economic development of the local population besides improved habitat for the animals. One action for the latter is to control the growth of the plant species called “langkap,” which destroys the plant food for the rhinos.

The Ujung Kulon National Park, located in the extreme southwest of the island of Java opposite the Krakatau volcano, covers an area of 122,451 hectares, and is surrounded by 15 villages. The park today counts a total of 35 rhinos.