June 5, 2008

World’s Rarest Rhino Caught Wrecking Video Camera

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - The world's rarest rhino does not like the limelight. A Javan Rhino was captured on video attacking a camera set up in an Indonesian jungle to study the habits of the animal, apparently because she sensed the lens was a threat to her calf, the WWF said Thursday.

There are around 70 Javan Rhinos in the wild, about 60 of which live in Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Java island. The remainder live in Vietnam.

In the first month of operation, five infrared video traps have captured two images of the camera-shy mother and calf, said Adhi Rachmat Hariyadi, head of the Ujung Kulon project for the environmental group.

"It is very unusual to catch a glimpse of the Javan Rhino deep inside the rain forest," he said, adding the camera was undamaged and put back on its stand the day after the incident.

WWF officials say they plan to relocate several of the rhinos in the park to another part of Indonesia in the hope that they breed. Otherwise, they fear the species could be wiped out in the event of disease or natural disaster.

Rhino numbers in Indonesia over the past 50 years have been decimated by rampant poaching for horns used in traditional Chinese medicines and destruction of forests by farmers, illegal loggers and palm oil plantation companies.

Apart from the 60 Javan Rhinos, there are thought to be around 300 Sumatran rhinos still alive in isolated pockets in the forests of Malaysia and Sumatra island.