Javan Rhinoceros – Rhinoceros sondaicus
The Javan Rhinoceros is classified as critically endangered species. They are also the species that we know the least about. Since not many of them remain out there we aren’t sure we will get to learn more about them either. They have skin that looks like armor. There are thick folds and creases in various areas of the body.
They can be up to 6 feet tall with the females being closer to 5 feet tall. They can range in weight from 2,000 up to 5,000 pounds. They are also approximately 7-13 feet long. This species of Rhinoceros only has one horn and it is quite small compared to the other species – only about 10 inches.
The body of the Javan Rhinoceros is one that looks prehistoric in many ways. Yet it is a design that helps them to be able to survive. They have thick skin that is very sensitive to the sunlight. The skin is very smooth which is one of the few features that differentiate it from the Indian Rhinoceros.
They are able to move around with ease for such a large animal. They are very powerful as well as very fast. They are often underestimated due to their look but don’t let one catch you off guard.
Fossil remains that are more than three million years old have been identified. However, evidence that has been extracted from the DNA could indicate that they split from other species about 11 million years ago. With that theory in mind it is safe to say that the evolution process is one that worked well for the Javan Rhinoceros.
What we know about the Javan Rhinoceros in regards to the evolution process though is very small. There is still a great deal of information that remains to be verified. Hopefully we will one day have enough answers to make stronger connections.
The Javan Rhinoceros is one that spends its time alone. They don’t interact among each other with the exception of mating. The females also interact well with their young. They do make sounds like other Rhinoceros but typically they are very quiet. Unless they are protecting territory, looking for mates, or warning about dangers they don’t make sounds very often.
They are able to move around at a faster pace than most Rhinoceros. They move around their home range in search of food and to find water. We don’t know very much at all about the social behaviors of these animals in the wild.
Habitat and Distribution
The tropical rainforest areas of Indonesia are where you will find most of the Javan Rhinoceros. However, they are quite spread out which is why they are located in India, China, and the Islands of Indonesia. In the past they were also known to live in areas of Bangladesh and Thailand. There are now reports that they are completely wiped out of those areas. There are only between 60 and 100 of them that are still living in the wild.
They prefer to live in areas where there is thick grass and reed beds. They also look for areas that offer them plenty of water for drinking. They use both water and mud wholes to be able to cool their bodies from the heat of the sun. Even though they can’t see well they are the most active at night. That allows them to get food during the cooler part of the day when they aren’t going to be submitting their sensitive skin to the hot sunlight.
They are generally found living in regions where there is very low altitudes such as around 3,000 feet above sea level. However, they are able to adapt to quite a few changes in their environment and have done so for a very long time.
Diet and Feeding habits
They are classified as browsers due to their eating habits. They consume a variety of foods including foliage, twigs, shoots, and fruits that grow at various times of the year. They don’t hurry when it comes to eating so it can take them several hours to eat what they need. There are more than 150 different types of plants that they are able to consume in order to survive.
They will also consume food from lower branches on trees when they need to find more food. Up to 8 hours a day is spent eating and they also go looking for water daily. They can go for a few days without water but need to stay in areas where they can get enough of it on a regular basis.
The average age for mating is 4 years of age for the females and 6 years for the males. The risk is there of a polluted genetic pool that is too shallow due to the low number of them. Many experts worry about this and have make it clear that breeding programs need to be established for those that remain. They also feel that removing the young from the mother is a good way to encourage her to reproduce again soon. Otherwise it can be several years between giving birth and this species of Rhinoceros is running out of time.
These animals also have the lowest natural life span of all Rhinoceros. They generally can live up to the age of 21 in the wild.
For the adults there aren’t any natural predators out there that they have to worry about. Sometimes the young can become victims of calculated hunts by cats or by crocodiles. Humans though are the biggest threat that these animals have. They have hunted them well beyond the point of them being able to rebound on their own. They have been killed so that their horns can be used for various types of medicines.
The going price for these horns are thousands of dollars and many people are provoked by that incentive. They also enjoy the thrill of the hunt that comes with such a challenging animal. The fact that many humans are afraid of the Javan Rhinoceros though means that they don’t think twice about seeing them killed.
Agricultural efforts by the villagers have also introduced problems. In order to plan that type of vegetation they must clear out areas where the Rhinoceros is able to feed. They also want to kill these animals so that they aren’t going through their areas and destroying the crops they have planted. These villagers are only interested in making sure they have enough to eat but they are putting the animals at risk by their efforts.
Today the Javan Rhinoceros is categorized as one of the rarest mammals in the world. They are very seldom photographed in the wild so efforts to capture them in such a format can pay big money. It is hoped that such photos can help to reduce predation and to get animal rights groups on board to help keep these Rhinoceros from extinction.