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Deadly tsunami leaves Javan rhinos untouched, but peril persists

28 / 12 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

JAKARTA — A devastating tsunami that killed more than 400 people in Indonesia has left the last surviving population of Javan rhinos unscathed — but has highlighted once again the dire threats facing the critically endangered species. The Dec. 22 tsunami, caused by a landslide in the Sunda Strait following a massive eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano, struck the western tip of Java and southern end of Sumatra. The confirmed death toll as of Dec. 27 was 429, with 154 people missing and feared dead. The volcano, a remnant of the legendary 1883 Krakatau eruption, is also within sight of Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, home to the world’s last Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus). The tsunami generated waves up to 5 meters (16 feet) high, some of which crashed ashore Ujung Kulon, killing two park agency officers and damaging office posts. All of the rhinos, however, are believed to be safe, said Mamat Rahmat, the park chief. He said the animals tended to cluster along the southern coast of Ujung Kulon, sheltered from the impact of the waves coming from the northwest. The latest estimate of the park’s Javan rhinos puts the population at a minimum of 68 individuals. Ridwan Setiawan, national rhino officer at WWF-Indonesia, said a joint team had been deployed to assess any damage, including checking camera traps installed near the coast. Like Mamat, he said few rhinos were found in the affected northern stretch of the park, and credited the hilly terrain, peaking at…

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