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Javan rhinos face human incursions into their last remaining habitat

11 / 09 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

With an estimated population of around 60 individuals, the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is among the world’s most Critically Endangered species. Once spread across much of southern Asia — from northeastern India to Vietnam, and south to Sumatra and Java in Indonesia — the species is now known to survive in just one habitat: Ujung Kulon National Park at the westernmost tip of Java. Set aside as a protected area since the Dutch colonial era, Ujung Kulon has long been a safe haven and stronghold for Javan rhinos. But conservationists say this last habitat faces a number of threats, including incursions by humans. Dozens of people have been caught conducting illegal activities in the park’s core zone and jungles, Ujung Kulon National Park Head Mamat Rahmat told Mongabay’s Indonesian sister site. These activities include hunting birds and lesser mouse-deer (Tragulus kanchil); gathering honey, wood and jernang (a red palm resin used for making dye); and even planting rice and other crops. Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species’ sole remaining habitat. Image courtesy of Sugeng Hendratno/WWF. Evidence seized by authorities demonstrates that 13 people were gathering jernang in known Javan rhino habitat earlier this year, Rahmat said. “This kind of activity is indeed prone to recurring. The park authorities took repressive measures to create a deterrent effect.” The case has been sent to the Pandeglang Regency Prosecutor’s office, based on an incident report written July 8, 2017. Authorities also allege there are indications…

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