July 13, 2012

Rhinos last stand

javanrhinolr.jpgBleak outlook for flagship rainforest species

Symbolic for an important band of lowland rainforest habitat in Indonesia, the Javan rhinoceros is a flagship species in danger of extinction and, according to the Borneo Rhino Alliance, there are too few left for them to survive without bold human intervention.  With only around 35 Javan rhinos left, and none in captivity, the Ujung National Park on the tip of western Java, is their last refuge.


Local Rhino Protection staff recently suggested that boosting local livelihoods could help reduce poaching pressure and encroachment if associated and consistent with ongoing conservation efforts. Nature-based tourism could provide another part of the long term solution to help protect both the rhinos and the rainforest which is vulnerable to deforestation from logging and expanding agricultural frontiers.

The dilemma is that since the location is remote, an improved road to Tamanjaya would facilitate tourism as well as offer better access to markets for local farmers, thereby improving livelihoods.  However, an improved road is likely to also attract colonists to the area, putting more pressure the rhinos’ habitat.  The road would also make it easier for poachers who seek out the rhinos just for their horns which are worth more than gold, fetching up to $65,000 a kilo in China for the traditional medicine market there.

Source: Mongabay and Amazon Watch



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