Is the Javan tiger extinct? Update on image

This is a post origially put out 2 years ago, however, I found the video had not worked, so here it is again.

There are still sizable areas of protected land in Java, and in 2017 a warden took the below photo.



Now it is hard to see it clearly, but to me I think it looks more like a leopard unfortunately

Now I am unsure about this picture but would be pleasantly pleased to be proved wrong.

If not, the Javan tiger is very similar to the Sumatran tiger. As such, with a recovery in the wild Sumatran population if a reserve is not suffering poaching, it would be possible to bring the tiger back to Java.

There has been no more sightings of this animal, which suggests that this sighting cannot have been real, but who knows.

It should be noted, that while rangers decided that it must be showing a leopard, this is still exciting. This is because, while a leopard is not a species declared extinct 48 years ago, the Javan Leopard is a species that is highly threatened. The current estimate of the population of this leopard species is between 188-571, most likely around 250 leopards is an accurate figure.

The video below is a clip filmed of the Javan leopard

Half of plantations in Indonesia’s palm oil heartland are illegal

I wrote in February about how an assessment had found that 20% of palm oil plantations were illegal (to read click here). This latest assessment suggests that in its heartland, half are illegal. Riau province is this heartland. Illegal plantations within this area cover an area almost as large as Hawai, and hosts more than half of the illegal plantations in the whole of Indonesia.

These illegal plantations are also not all owned by small players, with some of the biggest names in palm oil on the list. The government is suggesting 3 years to get retrospective permission.

The problem with this, is that it is essentially permission by the back door. If companies know that they will eventually get permission, there is a high incentive to break the law.

Furthermore, if these areas were designated for coservation, we need to find areas of similar importance to replace them


Sumatran Rhino

Sumatran Rhinoceros Photo Credit Kat Jenkinson

Sumatran Rhinoceros

Sumatran rhino is also known as a  hairy rhinoceros or Asian two-horned rhinoceros. Like the Javan rhino, the Sumatran rhino once had a range which covered a far larger area: rainforests, swamps and cloud forests in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and southwestern China, particularly in Sichuan.

There are still 3 on the island of Borneo, as you can see, the map still lists a population on the Malay peninsula though it is thought that this group is extinct. The 3 subspecies are:

  • The Sumatran island population: Western (34-47 individuals). This is unfortunately split in to 4 populations
  • The Borneo island population: Eastern (may be as low as 3). This was only discovered in 2016 in            East Kalimantan, after the population in Sabah, Malaysia (northern part of the island) was declared extinct in 2015
  • The mainland population: Northern (this is thought to be extinct as of 2010, but it is possible that a small group remain.
The Sumatran rhino spends most of its life alone, except for courtship and raising of young. It is more vocal than other rhino species, as well as communicating through marking soil with its feet, twisthing saplings into patterns, and leaving excrement. the species is much better studied than the similarly hard to see or find, for the Javan rhinoceros, in part because of a program which bought 40 Sumatran rhino into captivity in an attempt to preserve the species. Though a number of rhinos died once at the various destinations, and no offspring were produced for 20 years.


Only four areas are known to contain Sumatran rhinoceros: Bukit Barisan Selatan National park, Gunung Leuser national park, and Way Kambas National park on Sumatra, and on Borneo west of Samarindah.

We hope to be able to list trekking for seeing animals like this in the future, do get in touch if you work in this field.

Javan Rhino

Javan Rhinoceros

Javan rhino are on the verge of extinction. They are currently restricted to the island of Java in Indonesia. Unfortunately, this is a bigger issue than a rare species that is likely to vanish from Java in the near future.

Up until the middle of the 1800, this rhinoceros species was found Java and Sumatra and onto the mainland of Southeast Asia and Indochina, northwest into East India, Bhutan, and the south of China.

Now, one might argue that many species had wider ranges 150 years ago, but the Javan rhino only declared extinct in Vietnam, back in 2010. In other words, just 13 years ago this species lost its last hold on the Asian mainland. Their closest relative is the Indian greater one-horned rhino (though this is not a recent split, they are separate species).

Now they are restricted to one national park in Java which sits on the far western tip. Here, lies the Ujung Kulon national park, a wilderness covering 1206km2 (466miles2) though 443km2 (171miles2) of that is marine. In this wilderness, roams the last Javan rhinos on the planet. It is currently thought that there are 74 of them in this area. It should be noted that the population has grown since the below video was made – mentions the population as 73.

Furthermore, the Javan and Sumatran Rhino species are not closely related, indeed with the Sumatran Rhino, it is thought to be more closely related to the African rhino, rather than the Asian Rhino species.

Below is an incredibly rare bit of footage of Javan rhino in their small patch of remaining wilderness, from a charity called SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction).

Other animals found here include 35 endemic mammal species can be found in the park, including the banteng, silvery gibbon, Javan lutung, Crab-eating macaque, Javan leopard, Sumatran dhole, Java mouse-deer, Javan rusa, fishing can and smoothcoated otter. There are also 72 species of reptiles and amphibians and 240 species of birds

Javan Tiger

Javan Tiger

The Javan tiger was a population native to the Indonesian island of Java until the mid-1970s. It was hunted to extinction, and its natural habitat converted for agricultural land use and infrastructure. It was one of the three tiger populations in the Sunda Islands.

Formerly, it was regarded as a distinct tiger subspecies, which had been assessed as extinct on the IUCN Red List in 2008. However, new genetic analysis clearly showed that it is not distinct enough to be able to be a separate species.

Results of mitochondrial DNA analysis of 23 tiger samples from museum collections indicate that tigers colonized the Sunda Islands during the last glacial period 110,000–12,000 years ago.

As a result, should some space be made for this species to return it could. It is unlikely in the near future.

Primate family tree main and great and lesser apes

Primate family tree

The primates are in some ways one of the most successful families. It is true that many are now endangered, however, unfortunately, that is as a result of the run-away success of the most successful member of the primate family us! Having left the rainforests behind, we have been reducing their coverage dramatically over the last few centuries. 

The sad thing, is that while we have pushed many of our closest cousins towards extinction, the loss of forests may well cost us dearly in the future as well. As a species, we need to pull together to meet this challenge. in order to jump to the various families, click on the family of interest above – though all can also be reached by scrolling down.

Great Apes

Great ape Family split is thought to have split from its nearest relative – the gibbon family, around 17 million years ago.

4 million years later the Orangutan family split from the gorilla line and the human/chimp line.

3 million years after this (so around 10 million years ago) the gorilla family split from the Homo (humans) and Pan

Finally the human line (homo) split from the Pan line 5-6 million years ago.

It should be noted, that chimpanzees and Bonobos split from a common ancestor just 1.8 million years ago. This occurred as the two populations ceased to be able to have contact with each other – the Congo rive formed between 1.5 and 2 million years ago.

For more information on each species, click on their photo and this will take you to their page

It should be noted that while I have grouped eastern western and skywalker gibbon together, there is some contention that the skywalker gibbon should be in its own genus, having diverged around half a million years aog


Narrow-ridged (or East Asian) finless porpoise

Narrow ridged (east Asian) finless Porpoise

This species is native to the East China Sea, Yellow Sea, and the seas around Japan. The Yangtze finless was originally thought to be a subspecies of this porpoise, though further study showed its differences to be greater than that (hence it now being recognized as a separate species). The east asian finless porpoise is a subspecies of the narrow ridged finless porpoise (the above picture is one of these).

Growing to 2.27m at most, and 72kg, though most are smaller.

They generally stay in water 50m deep or less, and mostly stay close to shore (though not always – it has been spotted over 100km from land).

The biggest threat to them is habitat degradation and pollution. The population has fallen by 50% in the last 3 generations.

They have been kept in captivity in Japan, Indonesia and China. A total of 94 are thought to have been held. Unfortunately these do not live long, and of all of the pregnancies that have occurred in captivity, only 2 resulted in a love birth and this did not survive for long.

Indo-Pacific finless porpoise

Indo-Pacific Finless dolphin

 They are found in most of the Indian Ocean, as well as the tropical and subtropical Pacific from Indonesia north to the Taiwan Strait. Overlapping with this species in the Taiwan Strait and replacing it northwards is the East Asian finless porpoise.

They are one of the species protected by the Sundarbans national park, which lies between India and Bangladesh.

Growing to 2.3m at most, and with a weight of up to 72kg (most individuals are far, far, smaller). They eat a wide range of foods from fish and crustations to vegetation such as leaves and rice, and eggs that have been deposited on these leaves.

Marbled cat

Marbled cat

With a distribution from the Eastern Himalayas through to South-East Asia, it inhabits forests up to 2500m elevation. Its size is similar to a domestic cat.

Hunting is prohibited in Bangladesh , Cambodia , Yunnan province (China), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Thailand. Hunting is regulated in Laos and Singapore. In Bhutan and Brunei, the marbled cat is not legally protected outside protected areas. The legal state in Cambodia and Vietnam is unclear. Indiscriminate snaring in its range threatens its survival in places. It is valued for its skin meat and bones, though rarely seems to feature in the illegal Asian wildlife trade.

It is closely related to the Asiatic Golden Cat, and the Borneo bay cat

The worlds top sovereign fund is cutting ties with a dam which will likely lead to the extinction of the Tapanuli Orangutan

In most countries, if a dam was to cause so much destruction to the last habitat of a species, the dam would likely not get permission to be built.

It is true that the dam will only take about 20% of the land in question, directly. It will also split the population in half.

It is not surprising that the Norwegian sovereign fund has pulled out of this dam

Given that only around 800 Tapanuli Orangutans survive in the wild, the loss of just a handful is bad. A loss of 20% of the remaining population could quite rapidly push the population towards extinction, particularly as it will split the few remaining Orangutans into separate populations which cannot interbreed.

Norway has a huge sovereign fund, into which it pours the countries earnings from fossil fuel extraction. Perhaps recognizing that this has a shelf life which is not far from ending, Norway has made sure that for the most part its sovereign fund is good for the natural world (alongside giving good returns)

Generally rules on financing should have ruled this project out in the past, so it is good that this decision has been eventually made.

Will the dam still get built? We will have to wait and see.

See Animals Wild