Javan rhino wiped out in Vietnam

2011-10-25 07:36

Hanoi – Vietnam’s population of the Javan rhino is now extinct, conservationists said today.

There is no evidence of live rhinos in the Cat Tien National Park since the last one was found dead in April last year with its horn sawn off and a bullet in its leg, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.

The horn was likely sold for use in traditional medicine.

The only known surviving population of the rhinos contains fewer than 50 animals in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon Park.

The extinction in Vietnam was due human encroachment and poaching, said Nick Cox, WWF species programme manager in the Greater Mekong.

“We can’t change behaviour overnight but either customs have to change now or they will be forced to change when more species go extinct.”

Cox called for more government accountability to protect species in Vietnam.

“The laws are in place and they often have the money, but because so many agencies are involved, responsibility is not clear,” he said.

Park director Tran Van Thanh said 100 000 people live around the park and it was impossible for rangers to stop people from using some land for farmland and hunting wild animals.

In 2008, rangers found 25 000 traps, a quarter of which were for big animals.

“It is important to improve education and raise awareness of people living near the forest,” Thanh said. “The punishment is not strict enough to make them stop encroaching on the park.”

Demand for rhino horn for traditional medicine is increasing, according to WWF, despite scientific research revealing it is made of keratin, the same material as hair and fingernails, and has no medicinal value.

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