Friday, 12 May 2017

Natural disasters pose grave threat to planet's last Javan rhinos

Study urges establishment of secure populations of critically endangered species 

Date: May 10, 2017
Source: Colorado State University

The world's only population of Javan rhinoceros, already under severe threat from poaching, could go extinct in the future due to natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, according to a new study published in Conservation Letters. The few remaining Javan rhinos live in Ujung Kulon National Park, which is within sight of volcanic Mount Krakatoa and close to the Indonesian Sunda Arc, an area of converging tectonic plates that commonly cause earthquakes, triggering tsunamis.

In the study, a team of international researchers found that the 2013 global population of Javan rhinos was 62 animals, which is likely near the site's current capacity. A tsunami as high as 10 meters, or about 33 feet, which is projected to occur within the next 100 years, could threaten 80 percent of the area in the national park with the highest density of rhinos. As a result, the authors urge the establishment of additional rhino populations away from the reach of natural disasters.

Doing so will require identifying and securing new sites, securing the agreement of numerous stakeholders, including local authorities and the public, and intensive monitoring in Ujung Kulon National Park to determine which individual Javan rhinos may be suitable for translocation.

"What we found in this study provides good momentum for our efforts to save the Javan rhino, considering that we are racing against time," said Arnold Sitompul, conservation director of World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia.



Continued

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