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Search for a new home for Javan rhinos put on hold

02 / 07 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

JAKARTA — Indonesia has put on hold a plan to establish a second habitat for the Javan rhinoceros beyond the single site on the planet where the critically endangered species lives. An estimated 68 Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) live in Ujung Kulon National Park, on the western tip of the island of Java. With the entire species crammed into the 1,230-square-kilometer (475-square-mile) park, conservationists and government officials have for decades mulled the idea of establishing a second habitat to mitigate the risk of catastrophe from disease or natural disaster. Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species’ sole remaining habitat. Image courtesy of Sugeng Hendratno/WWF. That task gained urgency last December, after a tsunami struck the coast near Ujung Kulon, killing two park officials but leaving the rhinos unharmed. Conservationists’ top pick for a second habitat has long been a 5,000-hectare (12,360-acre) wildlife reserve in Cikepuh, on Java’s southern coast and away from the tsunami-prone northern coast. But the area is also the site of a military training ground, and looks to remain that way, according to a top official. “We are putting [the establishment of a second habitat] on pending,” Wiratno, the conservation chief at Indonesia’s environment ministry, told Mongabay in Jakarta. “Cikepuh is still too risky. Rhinos are very sensitive,” he added, suggesting the live-fire training would put too much stress on the animals. “We are looking at other alternatives,” Wiratno said. For now, he said, Indonesia is focusing on expanding the…

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