Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is one of the endangered animals in Indonesia, even in the world. How not, Indonesia is currently the only pocket of Javan Rhinoceros population left in the world after its population in Vietnam was declared extinct due to poaching in 2011.
Animals whose morphology looks like using a steel vest has an important ecological function. As an animal with a fairly remote range and belong to a type of single-belly mammals (not ruminating), generally the seeds from the food they have eaten are not completely digested, so they come out with feces. This makes the Javan Rhinoceros to have a role in spreading natural seeds in the TNUK area. In addition, the Javan rhino also acts as an “umbrella” species in the ecosystem. This is because by preserving the Javan rhino, we also help preserve the ecosystem in its home range.
Today, Indonesia’s proud animals also face a serious threat. Until now, both the government and other conservation institutions have succeeded in protecting this species from hunting, but the threat of hunting is still one thing that must remain vigilant.
Not only hunting, the geographical location of Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP) which is near the active volcanic volcano, Anak Krakatau Mountain also adds to fears of natural disasters that lurk the survival of the Javan Rhinoceros population. At least Mount Krakatau was recorded to have erupted in 1883 which then about 135 years ago Anak Krakatau volcano erupted on December 22, 2018. This seemed to remind again of the vulnerability of the Javan Rhino habitat from the threat of natural disasters.
Based on data collected from the Ujung Kulon National Park Office, the number of Javan Rhinos is currently recorded at 69 individuals spread across the Ujung Kulon Peninsula. However, the Ujung Kulon Peninsula itself is inseparable from the problem. Noted from the results of a survey conducted by the WWF-Indonesia Ujung Kulon Program together with Ujung Kulon National Park Office, at least 70% of the Ujung Kulon Peninsula has been dominated by Langkap plants (Arenga obtusifolia).
What is Langkap plant? Langkap plant is a native plant of Ujung Kulon which has very massive growth. Langkap growth affects the growth of other plants, including Javan Rhino feed. Domination Langkap closed the ground floor of the UKNP Peninsula so that it inhibited the growth of other plants to get sunlight. This is proven by the decreasing availability of Javan Rhino feed plants in areas that are predominantly Langkap.
Based on data obtained from trap cameras installed by the UKNP team and the WWF-Indonesia Ujung Kulon Program, it was found that many Javan rhino individuals migrated to the southern area of the TNUK Peninsula to obtain feed crops. This certainly raises concerns if it occurs in the long term, because the number of individuals who are concentrated in an area will cause territorial competition in maintaining the availability of food sources. As a solitary creature, the incident of aggression between Javan rhinos is not really found before, but it reflects from the death of Javan rhino in the Southern Peninsula in 2019, which indicates the aggression between Javan rhinos certainly indicates the possibility of territorial competition among Javan Rhinos.
Another thing that is also a concern of the unequal distribution of Javan Rhinos is the emergence of inbreeding which can reduce the genetic quality of Javan Rhinos. As an animal with a very small population size and is single, inbreeding is a matter of great concern in the resilience of its population. Declining genetic quality will affect individual susceptibility to survive disease. This will determine the quality of the next generation of Javan Rhinos. If the next generation of Javan Rhinos is dominated by the results of incest, then the resilience of the Javan rhino population in the world will be vulnerable to extinction.
These series of problems are new threats that have been identified to date related to the resilience of the Javan Rhinoceros population in its last habitat. Of course this is the joint responsibility of the conservationists to encourage the existence of a best solution in the preservation of this ecacula species. One solution that is currently still a joint discussion is the formation of a second population. The second population plan has actually been around since 1989 which was then poured into the Java Rhino Conservation Action Plan Strategy through the Minister of Forestry Regulation Number P.43 / Menhut-II / 2007. However, the realization of this plan is still hampered in the selection of suitable sites for the second habitat for the Javan Rhinos. There have been at least 17 locations that had been assessed for suitability for the location of the populations of the two Javan rhinos, but until now the government in collaboration with relevant partners is still looking for the best solution for the selection of the second Javan Rhino population location.
With the emergence of a precarious situation for one of Indonesia’s proud animals, it’s time for us to take part in saving them. Let’s encourage the Government to realize efforts to create a second habitat for Javan Rhinos. Because there are no rhinos, no good!