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Vietnam Rhino Extinct

October 28th, 2011

Photo credit/courtesy of World Wildlife Fund

Vietnam’s Javan Rhino Extinct

October 28, 2011 — A critically endangered species of rhinocerous is now extinct in Vietnam. There are officially no more rhinos in Vietnam, according to a report in Scientific American .

Vietnam’s last rhino died in April 2010 but the extinction was confirmed earlier this week. There have been no sightings since last year and careful testing on its dung have confirmed fears as well.

There are five main kinds of rhinos. Asia has the Javan, Sumatran, and Indian rhinos; Africa has the Black rhino and the White rhino. But they’re all in trouble. In fact, rhinos are among the most endangered species on Earth. You can click here to learn more about them.

Within the Javan group of rhino there are three kinds: the Indian Javan rhino, the Indonesian Javan rhino and Vietnam’s. The Indian Javan rhino has been extinct for about a century.

Now only the Indonesian Javan rhino remains, and there are fewer than 40 believed to be left. They’re in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park .

Javan rhinos like to eat leaves, twigs and fallen fruit. They can live 30-45 years, and can weigh up to 5,000 pounds! Their habitat is low-lying rainforests and wet grasslands. The Javan rhino has one horn (some rhinos have two).

Conservation groups had tried to protect the Javan rhinos’ environment at the Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam, but it didn’t work. The animals are often killed by poachers for their horns (a poacher is someone who hunts illegally). Poachers can get up to $30,000 for a rhinocerous horn. The horns are in demand because some believe it can be used for medicine, though others say there’s no proof. The horns are made of compacted hair (keratin).

By W.F.A. Zimmerman via Rhino Resource Center/Wikimedia Commons

Poaching has historically been a problem, but it’s been a really big one over the past decade or so. In this case, reports are that a poacher shot the rhino in the leg and cut off its horn — all too often the case.

Watch a rare sighting of the Javan rhino below:

What can you do to help?

Learn about The International Rhino Foundation.

You can “adopt” a rhino here.

Learn about the World Wildlife Fund’s efforts.

Learn about Save the Rhino’s work.

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