Javan rhinoceros

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Javan rhinoceros

The Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus), also known as the Sunda rhinoceros or lesser one-horned rhinoceros, is a very rare member of the family Rhinocerotidae and one of five extant rhinoceroses. It belongs to the same genus as the Indian rhinoceros, and has similar mosaicked, armour-like skin, but at 3.1–3.2 m (10–10 ft) in length and 1.4–1.7 m in height, it is smaller. Its horn is usually shorter than 25 cm (9.8 in), and is smaller than those of the other rhino species. Only adult males have horns; females lack them altogether.

Once the most widespread of Asian rhinoceroses, the Javan rhinoceros ranged from the islands of Java and Sumatra, throughout Southeast Asia, and into India and China. The species is critically endangered, with only one known population in the wild, and no individuals in captivity. It is possibly the rarest large mammal on Earth, 21 with a population of as few as 58 to 61 in Ujung Kulon National Park at the western tip of Java in Indonesia.  A second population in Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam was declared by some conservation groups to be extinct in 2011. The decline of the Javan rhinoceros is attributed to poaching, primarily for their horns, which are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, fetching as much as US$30,000 per kg on the black market.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Perissodactyla
  • Family: Rhinocerotidae
  • Genus: Rhinoceros
  • Species: R. sondaicus
  • Binomial name: Rhinoceros sondaicus


Javan rhinos used to live in a variety of tropical landscapes, both lowland and highland, from the mangroves of the Sunderbans in India and Bangladesh, the mountains of southern China, to the sub-montane shrubs on the highest volcanoes of Java. The Javan rhino probably had a wider ecological range than either its larger relative, the greater one-horned rhino, or its compatriot, the Sumatran rhino


the Javan rhino’s diet is characterized by high species diversity. Hundreds of food plant species have been recorded, but about 40% of the quantity of food eaten comes from a few preferred and common plant species. The rhinos eat mostly leaves, young shoots and twigs. Most of the plants eaten by rhinos grow in unshaded locations, in vegetation without tall trees, gaps created by fallen trees, and shrubland without trees. These unshaded places have a better average quality of food plants. Javan rhinos rarely feed in vegetation types where the quantity of available food is low.

Life cycle

There are still major gaps in our knowledge about Javan rhinos because they are extremely difficult to study. The remaining Javan rhinos live in incredibly dense jungle and the species has never bred in captivity.

For these reasons, the average lifespan is unknown, but it is probably between 30-40 years. It is also assumed – based on the biology of the greater one-horned rhino – that females become sexually mature at 5-6 years and males at 10 years.

The mating season occurs roughly from July to November, but the gestation period is also unknown, athough it is probably around 16 months – similar to the greater one-horned rhino.

The Javan rhino is solitary, except when pairs form for mating and when mothers tend their young.


The Javan rhinoceros only has one horn which is much smaller than those of other rhinoceros species, growing to an average length of 25cm. The Javan rhinoceros uses its small horn for defence, intimidation, digging up roots and breaking branches during feeding. The horn of the Javan rhinoceros is made from a substance called keratin and is therefore very strong. The horn of the Javan rhinoceros is used in ancient medicine and many Indian rhinos have been illegally poached for them.

The Javan rhinoceros has relatively poor eyesight, relying more on hearing and smell to detect what is going on around them. The ears of the Javan rhinoceros possess a relatively wide rotational range to detect sounds and an excellent sense of smell to readily alert them to the presence of predators.

Javan rhinoceros images

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