For the first time, the Javan rhino has been filmed in the jungles of Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. After only a month in operation, these specially designed video cameras have recorded remarkable images of a mother and calf pair of the world's rarest rhino. The video trap was installed and monitored by a survey team including WWF, biologists, park rangers and local people.
Footage shows the pair slowly approaching the video camera. After a brief inspection, the mother charges the camera installation and sends it flying.
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The Javan rhino is critically endangered and faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. There are now fewer than 60 Javan rhinos left, and it is very unusual to spot this species deep inside their rain forest habitat. Indonesia’s Ujung Kulong National Park is estimated to have more than 90 percent of the global population.
This footage is the result of recent advances in wildlife video recording. Since these cameras have no moving parts and are very quiet, they can be placed along often-frequented spots of the Javan rhinos such as salt licks, trails and mud wallows. They also use infrared lights as the source of illumination so as to not scare animals away when the camera is motion-activated.
In the case of Javan rhinos, researchers no longer spend long nights perched atop bamboo platforms. These structures were difficult to construct and offered scientists limited viewing angles. The lower-quality images they captured meant it was often impossible to identify individual rhinos. The new video traps are easily moved and surprisingly robust – the camera tossed in our footage was found by the survey team and put back on its stand the next day.
To conserve Indonesia’s Javan rhinos the government recently launched a rhino conservation strategy with WWF, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and other partners. The goal will be to create additional Javan rhino populations by translocating individuals from Ujung Kulon National Park to another suitable site. The video traps are already yielding valuable data into the behavior of this endangered species.