With a population reduced to less than 50 individuals, the Critically Endangered Javan Rhino may be the world’s rarest large land mammal. Now confined to the Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP), it is especially vulnerable to changes affecting its habitat and in particular to the intensification of human pressures observed in Indonesia’s protected areas, such as farming encroachment, poaching, illegal logging and non-timber forest product collection.
Poaching is a direct threat for Javan Rhinos, whose horn is widely valued in China and Vietnam as an ingredient for traditional medicine and as a status symbol, commanding a very high price on the black market.
Meanwhile, areas suitable for the Javan Rhinos have been disappearing fast as lowland tropical forests are cut and converted to rice paddies, oil palm plantations and other types of agricultural lands. More discreet but as serious a threat, is the Arenga palm (Arenga obtusifolia), an invasive species that inhibits the growth of suitable rhino food plants. As it also prevents the growth of grass, it forces Bantengs, an Endangered bovid species that normally grazes, to browse and compete with Javan Rhinos for food. The Arenga palm is rampant in UKNP, covering an estimated 60% of park.