The Javan rhino is one of the most rare and endangered rhinos in the world. After capturing these three Javan calves on camera in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park, the tiny rhino population rises from 57 to 60. The calves, which consist of females and one male, have been captured by forest cameras at various times in 2015.
A step forward for the Great Barrier Reef is a step forward for conservation.
Earlier this year, the Australian government banned dumping in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In November, the government extended the ban outside the park, to include the entire World Heritage Area, where 80% of the dumping had occurred closer to the shore.
This closed a legal loophole that would have allowed 46 million cubic meters of seabed to be dug up and dumped in the fragile and biodiverse ecosystem. The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 134 species of sharks and rays, over 30 species of marine mammals, six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles, as well as 411 kinds of hard coral and one-third of the world’s soft corals.
Indonesia’s forests are burning as palm oil companies clear land to plant their cash crop, which is used in everything from cosmetics to food. That very same land is home to wild orangutans and other rare animals.
Satellite photography shows that about 100,000 fires have already burned in Indonesia since July, with thousands of those occurring deep in the forests and national parks across the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. These fires are threatening several animals, which include the rare clouded leopard, the iconic hornbill and as many as one third of the world’s remaining orangutans.
358 fire “hotspots” have been found inside the Sabangau Forest in Borneo, which is home to 7,000 wild orangutans – the world’s largest population. Fires are also occurring in the Tanjung Puting national park where 6,000 of the wild apes reside, the Katingan forest with 3,000 and the Mawas reserve with an estimated 3,500.
These kinds of fires produce an abundance of harmful gases and particulates, causing serious problems for both orangutans and humans. Up to 500,000 people have suffered respiratory infections, in addition to several orangutans. Communications manager for International Animal Rescue, which runs a rehabilitation center for more than 125 injured and orphaned orangutans in Ketapang, Borneo, Lis Key says:
“The problem with fire and smoke is absolutely dire. Wild orangutans and orangutans in centers like ours are badly affected by the smoke,” she said. “Some suffer upper respiratory tract infections, which can even prove fatal. Some of the babies we’ve taken in recently have been suffering not only from dehydration and malnourishment through lack of food but also breathing problems from the polluted air.”
Not only do the fires threaten orangutans with disease and malnutrition, but also with habitat loss. The apes are being pushed out of their homes into areas closer to humans, where they are killed or sold into the pet trade.
The fires have burned out of control from an unusually dry and windy season due El Niño weather patterns. And one of the worst parts of the fires is that they can occur underground, re-emerging away from the initial source. This makes them extremely difficult to extinguish and contain. Unfortunately, the Indonesian fires may not end the rainy season begins mid-November, if then.
The endangered one-horned rhinos of Nepal were down to 375 in 2005, but today they number a triumphant 675.
The rise in Rhino population occurred thanks to anti-poaching measures over the past decade. In fact, there has been no rhino poaching at all in three of the last five years, making Nepal a global role model on how to handle poachers.
“At a time when the world is facing difficulties to protect and conserve the wildlife including rhinos, Nepal has seen an extraordinary improvement in wildlife conservation. It is definitely a rare successful conservation story in the world, where park officials and the Nepalese army have managed to succeed in anti-poaching activities.”
Still, killing greater one-horned rhinos for their horns is a terrible problem. The rhino is on the red list of the IUCN, as countries in Africa continue to have trouble stopping poachers.
“Wild animals such as tigers, rhinos, elephants and leopards have been regularly killed by poachers for their body parts and skin, which fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.”
In 2002, 37 rhinos were killed by poachers, triggering deep concern about the one-horned rhino’s future in Nepal. Since then, Nepal has taken several measures to halt the poaching of these endangered animals, including harsher penalties, police and military involvement and a well-run judicial system to deal with the offense. Kunwar explains:
“The Nepal army plays a key role in anti-poaching, normally one battalion of army [soldiers] is deployed in Chitwan National Park. That’s 1,100 men and more are added according to need. There has been 24/7 patrolling going that has resulted into this success.”