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Javan Rhinoceros: Working Together to Save a Species

We have all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Did you know it also takes a village to save a species from extinction? Groups of skilled researchers, wildlife managers and government officials working together with organizations, such as Morris Animal Foundation are all needed to ensure species survival. The Javan rhinoceros is one such species that needs help from the research village.


Javan rhinoceros is perhaps the most critically endangered large mammal on earth.

  • Only 35 to 50 animals are left in the wild.
  • Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP) on the island of Java, Indonesia, is a critical habitat for this species’ survival.
  • From 1982 to 2003, hemorrhagic septicemia, a disease prevalent in the region’s domestic water buffalo, was implicated in the deaths of 11 rhinos in UKNP.


  • Javan rhinoceros population, confined to one region of the park, is stagnant and even slowly declining.
  • Females give birth to a single offspring only every two to three years.


  • Create a conservation site to house a second population of Javan rhinoceros on the eastern side of UKNP to expand the range and increase population numbers.


  • 19 communities surround the new conservation site.
  • Hemorrhagic septicemia is a significant health risk for Javan rhinoceros and it is endemic in water buffalo that live near the conservation site.
  • Water buffalo that work the villages’ rice paddies are loosely managed and regularly infiltrate the park’s boundaries.


With Morris Animal Foundation funding, researchers from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine recently completed a disease survey on hemorrhagic septicemia in water buffalo living near the proposed Javan rhinoceros relocation area.

Our funded researchers learned that several buffalo were infected with hemorrhagic septicemia. As a result, local government officials are implementing a free vaccination program for livestock to help reduce the risk of disease transmission from the water buffalo to rare Javan rhinoceros and other endangered animals living in and around the new conservation site.

Local villagers have also been taught to recognize symptoms and to take measures to prevent disease, such as implementing basic quarantine principles and establishing who to contact in the event of a disease outbreak. Together, these measures are critical first steps in safeguarding the health of the remaining Javan rhinoceros population in UKNP, the last habitat for these majestic animals.

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By: Jean Vore

Categories: Animal studies
August 15, 2014