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Wildlife Trade Specialists

Published 12th May 2010

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Javan Rhino poached in Viet Nam

Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 12 May 2010—A Javan Rhino was found dead late last week in Cat Tien National Park in, Lam Dong Province, Viet Nam, further endangering the population of the world’s rarest rhinoceros.


A camera-trap photo of a Javan Rhinoceros taken in December 2005 © WWF 

Local people first discovered the long dead carcass, which was examined by national park authorities and WWF and appeared to have been shot and the horn removed, presumably by poachers.

As few as six individual Javan Rhinoceros were previously believed to survive in Viet Nam, with a further 40–60 in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia. The species is classified by IUCN as Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild), and none are currently in captivity. 

“For an animal at such critically low numbers, the loss of even one Javan Rhino is a conservation tragedy,” said Tom Osborn, TRAFFIC’s Greater Mekong Programme Leader. 

“The incident highights the threat posed by poaching to the very existence of some of the world's rarest and iconic animals.”

“If this animal was indeed killed for its horn, then whoever was responsible should be brought to justice by the authorities in Viet Nam.” 

A recent investigation by TRAFFIC and others into the rhino horn trade revealed an alarming escalation in rhino poaching, which reached a 15 year high in 2009. Most rhinos are poached in southern Africa⎯especially Zimbabwe and South Africa, with poachers using increasingly sophisticated techniques. 

Demand from Asia is fuelling the poaching, with Viet Nam emerging as a principal destination for rhino horn, which is regarded both as a status symbol and used for medicinal purposes. 

Samples taken from the dead rhino will be sent to Queen’s University in Canada for analysis to see if the DNA of the dead rhino matches any of the dung samples found earlier this year by a WWF survey team using trained sniffer dogs to assess the population of Javan Rhinos curviving in Viet Nam.