One of only about 48 remaining Javan rhinos has been found dead in Indonesia, according to the International Rhino Foundation.
The carcass of the male rhino was found late last month in dense jungle in Java island’s Ujung Kulon National Park. Its horn was intact so experts believe it probably wasn’t killed by poachers.
The park is the last rhino habitat in Indonesia with a population estimated at around 44. Another group of only around four individuals survives in Vietnam. Conservationists were appalled last month when poachers killed a member of this group for its horn.
Rhino horns are highly valued in Chinese and Korean medicine although they have no unique medicinal qualities.
Despite efforts to save them, scientists believe Javan rhinos will be the first mammal to become extinct.
The death of the male in Ujung Kulon comes as researchers conduct a field survey to count the remaining population in Java. The deceased individual was last seen in a wallow in March, when it was caught by a camera trap.
“The death of even one animal represents a significant loss for this critically endangered species,” the federation said on its website.
“Although the rhino population in Ujung Kulon has remained relatively stable over the past 20 years, the overriding problem facing the species is that there is only one viable population in one location.
“Thus there is still significant risk of extinction from a single natural disaster or introduced disease.”
(Picture courtesy of Rhino Resource Centre via Wikimedia Commons)