Critical Situation For Rhino Species
August 5, 2012

Critical Situation For Rhino Species

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Peter de Groot hopes that his recent finding confirming the extinction of the Javan rhinoceros in Vietnam will push the public to help protect the last remaining group of these prehistoric creatures living in Indonesia.

“We still have a chance to save the species but before we do anything, we have to determine the profile of the remaining group,” he says.

The demise of the Javan rhinoceros population living in Vietnam was confirmed by Dr. de Groot, Peter Boag (Biology) and colleagues. This was done by analyzing animal dung collected with the assistance of special dung detection dogs. They determined only one Javan rhinoceros was living in Vietnam in 2009 using genetic tools developed at Queens and Cornell. That rhinoceros was found dead the following year.

Drs. de Groot, Boag and other researchers are now working to save a group of 29 Javan rhinoceroses currently living in a tiny area of Indonesia called Ujon Kolong. They will determine the age, sex and pedigree of this group by using the rhinoceros feces collected by fellow researchers. This research will give a direction to try to save the remaining population of one of the most threatened large mammal species in the world.

This work is part of Drs. de Groot and Boag´s ongoing initiative to develop genetic tools that can help in the management and conservation of all rhino species in Africa and Asia. Through the integration of non-invasive field data collected with the help of local indigenous knowledge and with collaborators in the US , France, Africa and Asia, they are developing inclusive methods to accurately monitor and conserve our shared natural heritage.

This work has been funded largely by NSERC, WWF, IRF (International Rhino Foundation) and the USFWS.

This research was published in Biological Conservation.