Final Countdown

70x50 cm
Oil on canvas

 The Javan rhino is the rarest of five rhino species. You can spot them on their dusky grey color, their armor-looking skin and single horn of about 25 cm long. At least for males, the female’s horn is usually smaller, or they have no horn at all. They were once the mostly spread population amongst the Asian Rhino, but sadly now the most threatened one on the verge of extinction. Today there are actually only around 60-75 individuals left - all living only in the protected national park Ujung Kulon, in Java, Indonesia.

Poaching has been a huge threat for these animals, as they were killed by trophy hunters during colonial times, as agricultural pets as well as for their horn and for medicinal purposes. Though poaching remains a threat in the animal kingdom, there hasn’t been any poaching in Ujung Kulon for over 20 years, which has lead the population to slowly but steadily increase!

But today a different threat is looming: habitat loss. As in many places across the world, the landscape is changing rapidly. Natural habitats are replaced by cityscapes, plantations, or used for any other kind of development, which gives the rhinos little room to reproduce and secure their young a bright future.

The park where the species are living is also highly vulnerable to “natural” catastrophes like tsunamis, volcanoes and rising sea levels because of climate change. Another current threat of the rhinoceros is the potential inbreeding and low genetic diversity that can make it difficult for survival in the long-term.

Luckily, we have some heroes involved in the issue as well! There are organizations like RPU and WWF who are working to safeguard the species and protect their habitat daily, working with communities around the area to prevent encroachment, as well as working to establish a second population of Javan rhinos, which hopefully saves these incredible species from going extinct!