Hidden cameras in the jungles of Indonesia's Java island have captured rare footage of the world's most threatened rhino, boosting efforts to save it from extinction, the environmental group WWF said Thursday.
Two camera traps set up by the environmental group in the remote Ujung Kulon national park have yielded new footage of the endangered Javan rhinoceros, said Adhi Hariyadi, leader of the WWF project.
The footage will help conservationists fighting to save the species, which numbers only around 60 in the wild, by giving new information on the rhinos' health as well as vital insights into their breeding habits, said Hariyadi.
“We have already been able to observe a mother and calf walking and rearing and in the process of separation,” he said.
The video includes night-time footage of one female rhino and her calf in the lush forest of Ujung Kulon.
Seeing the unfamiliar device, the mother charges the camera with her full force and the picture disappears.
The footage will be key in efforts to save the endangered species, Hariyadi said. The roughly 50 Javan rhinos living in Ujung Kulon make up the only viable population capable of reproducing.
“(The footage) basically fills in the puzzle, and since we are challenged to increase the population of Javan rhinos in the future it basically helps us to identify suitable environments for them,” he said. “We know very little about their behaviour unfortunately.”
Conservationists and the Indonesian government are studying the possibility of relocating some of Ujung Kulon's rhinos to a new home on either Java or Sumatra island to avert catastrophe if the community collapses.
“If something happens to this population they will be all gone,” said WWF spokeswoman Desmarita Murni.
The new footage is the first to be taken of the Javan rhino from camera traps and the first from any source in the last five years, Hariyadi said.