9 Nov 2017
MEET RAWING THE JAVAN RHINO
With so few Javan rhinos left – there’s just 67 in the world - we've got to know them personally over the years. Each one has its own distinct personality and markings, and name.
He’s a survivor
Take Rawing for example, an old-timer with the identification number 07. He's a favourite among conservation workers in the Ujung Kulon National Park because he's managed to live to a ripe old age, despite the many challenges in the area. He's got a few scars to show for it, but these make him easy to recognise.
Javan rhinos like to browse widely for their favourite food plants, but WWF teams had only ever seen Rawing in the southern part of Ujung Kulon National Park. He hung out there because the invasive Arenga palms that destroy rhino plant food were not so concentrated. That was until recently.
Poster boy for rhino recovery
After WWF spent five years controlling the palm in the eastern section of the park, it was noticed that Rawing was moving into the cleared area to feed. He was even captured on remote cameras playing in this more open habitat. There's obviously some spirit left in the old boy yet, especially when there's more space and food available.
Since then, Rawing has become something of a poster boy for rhino recovery. If he's happy to range further afield when the palm is eradicated, then there's every chance that younger Javan rhinos will too.
WWF has been researching the Javan rhino for decades now, trying to build a picture of its behaviour, distribution and populations. We work closely with park staff to keep track of all 67 individuals - from Rawing to females Puri and Paspa and playful newcomers Manggala and Mayang.
Our support for anti-poaching patrols was critical in the early days, but now the Arenga palm poses a far greater threat.
We’re also working with the Indonesian Government and our partners to decide whether it might ease the pressure on the national park, and give the Javan rhino a better chance of long-term survival, if we were to establish a second population in another secure habitat. It might give them the breathing - and breeding - space they need.
For now, WWF is focussed on making the surviving rhinos as safe and happy as possible. First up, we have the ambitious goal of restoring a further 190 hectares of preferred rhino habitat within the national park.
To do that, we'll continue working with local people to remove Arenga palms - at a rate of 66,500 a year - all by hand. Once cleared, we'll plant 6,000 rhino food seedlings annually to satisfy their big appetite.
Not only will this benefit the rhino; local people will also reap the rewards. We expect to recruit more than 50 people to the palm eradication team, and they will continue to help us with our forest patrols and rhino monitoring.
Having made it this far, we want to see Rawing live out his days in comfort, and ensure that Manggala and Mayang go on to produce the next generation of Javan rhinos.
Help us save the last remaining Java rhinos and help them grow in numbers.