Thursday, August 24, 2017 - 15:50:56

Javan rhino wiped out in Vietnam

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The critically endangered Javan Rhino has been wiped out in Vietnam , WWF Vietnam and the International Rhino Foundation confirmed in a report released on Oct. 25.

"It is painful that despite significant investment in Vietnamese rhino conservation, efforts failed to save this unique animal," WWF's Vietnam director Tran Thi Minh Hien said in a press release. " Vietnam has lost part of its natural heritage."

The report was based on genetic analysis of 22 dung samples collected by a Cat Tien National Park-WWF survey team between 2009-10, which later confirmed that the samples belonged to a rhinoceros that was found dead in the park in April 2010, shortly after the survey was completed.

Authors of the report, titled Extinction of the Javan Rhino from Vietnam pointed out that poaching was the likely cause of the last rhino's death. It had been shot in the leg and its horn sliced off.

A 2004 survey conducted by Queen's University in Canada stated that there were at least two rhinos living in the park at the time.

It was earlier believed that the Javan rhinoceros had been wiped out in Vietnam by 1988. However, up to 15 rhinos were later found to be living in Cat Tien in 1989.

In the mid-1990s various international organisations were involved in conservation efforts to protect the remaining Javan rhino population in Cat Tien National Park . However, these efforts failed to stem poaching, the report said.

Tran Van Thanh, director of the park, said the total forested area of the park has declined from 75,000ha in 1988 to 35,000ha now. According to Thanh, the park, in which about 20,000 people live, still loses on average 50ha of forest annually.

Thanh said there were at least 250 cases of illegal logging in the park in the first nine months of this year. However, just three were successfully prosecuted. Under the law, tree loggers are only prosecuted if they destroy more than 5,000sq.m of forest.

Nick Cox, manager of WWF's species programme in the Greater Mekong, said the loss of the Javan rhinoceros in Vietnam is very sad.

"This continued situation will no doubt lead to the extinction of many more species from Vietnam ," Cox said. " Vietnam 's protected areas need more rangers, better training, monitoring and accountability."

The WWF has urged Vietnam to do more to protect its endangered species.

There are just 50 Javan rhinoceroses now left in the world, all in Indonesia . /.
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