JAKARTA • Three critically endangered Javan rhino calves have been filmed in an Indonesian national park, raising hopes for the future of the world's rarest rhino after years of population decline.
One female calf and two males were spotted in recent months in Ujung Kulon national park, on Java island, and were all likely born in the past year, park chief Mohammad Haryono said yesterday.
The rhinos were filmed with their mothers by cameras set up to track the shy creatures in a recently established sanctuary inside the park, he said. They were all born from different mothers and both the parents and their youngsters looked healthy, he added.
Mr Haryono said the discovery of the calves - filmed in April, May and July - brings the population of the Javan rhino to 60, all of which live in Ujung Kulon.
"This is wonderful news. Now we just need to ensure their protection," said Mr Widodo Ramono, head of conservation group the Indonesian Rhino Foundation.
The Javan rhino, whose folds of loose skin give it the appearance of wearing armour plating, once numbered in the thousands and roamed across South-east Asia.
Poaching and human encroachment on its habitat have led to a dramatic population decline, as with other rhino species around the world, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has said that the Javan rhino is "making its last stand".
Poaching in particular represents a severe threat, with rhino horns fetching high prices on the black market for use in traditional Asian medicine.