The wildlife of Indonesia now often looks like relatively unique to those islands. This is not the natural state of affairs. 60,000 years ago, a cousin of the orangutan lived on the mainland. Unfortunately, what appears clear, is that humans were responsible for the extinction of these animals as with so many more.
There are 2 species of Indonesian Rhino, the Javan rhino and the Sumatran rhino. Now it should be noted that these names are not an indication of a small range (or if it is, it is wrong) in reality, both rhino species were far more widely spread. Indeed mainland specimens lived within the 21st century.
Rhino poaching is devastating rhino populations across Africa and Asia. Many species such as the Indonesian species are already lost or on the brink. African species are not far behind.
If you have a strong constitution, do look up images. They are not nice particularly if you have seen this animal alive, as such I have not included a picture.
Currently there are about 16,000 wild rhinos in South Africa, out of a worldwide population that might not number more than 30,000.
9 people have been arrested for this poaching. Now it is clear that the rhino poaching is down from its peak, never-the-less what is necessary is to kill the demand for rhino horn. Currently, an Asian rhino horn can be worth $400,000 with an African rhino horn being worth $20,000. Given that the average annual salary in South Africa is $2000, even $20,000 can be a life changing amount.
It is highly likely that the end of ecotourism during the epidemic is responsible for the uptick in rhino poaching, as people become desperate with their income having vanished.
Today the Sumatran rhino is critically endangered. It is thought that not more than 80 exist in the wilds of Sumatra. Not particularly closely related to the Javan rhino, the Sumatran rhino once had a much larger range extending from foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Bhutan and eastern India, through Myanmar, Thailand, possibly to Vietnam and China, and south through the Malay Peninsula. Indeed the Sumatran rhino is thought to have lost its last remaining mainland member as recently as 2015.
As a result, a breeding centre has been set up on Sumatra to create a captive population with which to boost the wild population.
Unfortunately, they have not done well. This calf is just the third born since the foundation of the centre – the centre was set up in 1996. There have only been another 3 calves born elsewhere in captivity.
As with other Sumatran wildlife, the Sumatran rhino has suffered the dual threats of loss of habitat and the fragmentation of what is left.
Late last year, the oldest of the two remaining northern white rhino was retired from the breeding programme. This just leaves her daughter as the only egg donor in the embryo implantation scheme.
There are now no remaining male northern white rhino and only 2 females. As a result, the idea has been for some time, to get embryos from the few remaining members and implant them into similar rhino species.
Roaming in reasonable numbers just 40 years ago, they suffered due to poaching for their horn.
Currently there are 12 healthy embryos ready for implantation, so there is still hope that the northern white rhino could rise from the ashes and go back to filling its important niche. Unfortunately there is still much work to do before we can reach that stage.
Until recently there were only 3 viable embryos, so it is encouraging that these two new ones have be able to be created. There are currently just 2 remaining northern white rhino left. The last two both live at Ol Pejeta conservancy in central Kenya.
The white rhino recovery was a huge success story- from a low of just 60 animals the population rose to over 20,000, the biggest single population, lying within the huge Kruger national park.
Unfortunately, while China has slowly got their illegal wildlife trade under control (still a big problem, but for rhino, nowhere near the biggest) Vietnam and Laos, have seen a demand for rhino horn rocket.
Much of the news from the Natural World is negative. The human population is growing in crowding out the Natural World, even when not foolish two positions have led close to the Extinction of animals because of supposed benefits that their body parts will bring humans.
The fact that the rhino poaching of South Africa has fallen for 5 years in a row is something to celebrate. However, despite this there is a lot that we still need to be concerned about.
In 2019 594 Rhinos were killed within the Kruger National Park by poachers. In 2015 a little over 1300 rhino were lost to poachers, in the same area. As such, cutting the poaching by more than half in the space of only 5 years is impressive ( though, it should be noted that the rise was more rapid than the fall has been), 594 Rhinos killed is still a huge number.
South Africa hosts over 90% of the world’s remaining Rhinos, which means that any poaching here has a large impact on the world’s population. It should be noted that the 594 Rhinos lost last year in South Africa Is the equivalent of 4 times the total world population of Sumatra and Java Rhinos that remain.