A unique subspecies of rhino, Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, is entirely extinct. The disappearance itself occurred in 2010, but it was only last October that zoologists were able to confirm what they had feared. Historically, there have been three subspecies of the one-horned Javan rhinoceros. The first to disappear was Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis, a variety that roamed India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar until a century ago. Now the beast has lost its foothold in Vietnam, leaving only Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus in Indonesia. We are despairingly close to losing the species altogether. The Javan rhino is probably the rarest large mammal on the planet, with no more than 50 left in the wild and none in captivity. Its small population size and likely isolation to one protected area in Indonesia make it extremely vulnerable to any threat. In October 2011 it was confirmed that the Javan rhinoceros in Vietnam was extinct. A dead Javan rhino was found in April 2010 with a single bullet in its leg and its horn removed. A collection of 22 separate dung samples gathered in a survey of Cat Tien National Park in 2009-2010 were analysed and all came from this single rhino. Habitat loss played a key role in sealing the fate of the rhino in Vietnam, and without adequate law enforcement and effective management of protected areas other species such as the tiger and the Asian elephant could also disappear from the wild in Vietnam. The Javan rhino is on death watch. And given how closely zoologists have been monitoring the ever-weakening vital signs of the species, it’s unsurprising that we know about the extinction of Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus in depressing detail.
- Western black rhino declared extinct (richarddawkins.net)
- 12 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Rhinoceroses (todayifoundout.com)
- A tandem-horned rhino from the Late Miocene of China reveals origin of the unicorn elasmothere (phys.org)
- Last Javan Synagogue Destroyed (commentarymagazine.com)
- Last Javan Synagogue Destroyed (commentarymagazine.com