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Capture of all Javan rhinos?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Nikola Chavkosk, 25 Feb 2016.

  1. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    The eventual plan for capture and captive keeping and breeding of Javan rhinos seems that offer some hope for saving the species from extinction.
    This rhino species is more closely related to Indian rhino - the species who florish in captivity, not to the Sumatran rhino - who proved bad captive.

    The population of Javans anyway most probably will extinct owning to current trend; they can be still killed by poachers; there is not much wild place left on Java etc. Why should not be tried with captive breeding?

    Or at least capturing individuals who are not related, eg. 20 founders (if possible). Last captive Javan rhino, as I read on Wikipedia died in Adelaide zoo in 1907, but husbandry from that time has improved a lot.

    What can be done with such project, who should first initiate this? EAZA & AZA to the Indonesian Government and IUCN?
    Please help to save this species! Comment, suggest, initiate, communicate to the Competent authorities?
     
    Last edited: 26 Feb 2016
  2. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    But Sumatran rhino, altough in greater number (200), it is more threatened than Javan, because of fragmentation of the population, wich is not case with the Javan rhino (whose number probably are about 45 animals).
     
  3. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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    A place in the U.S. like White Oak Conservation seems like a fine candidate for Javan Rhinoceros. Its in Florida so it is hot and warm, there's plenty of acres for enclosures and places for the rhinos, and most of all they have great experience in recent years with Indian rhinos.
     
  4. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. How this can be comunicated to the zoo, to the US and Indonesian government? I will sent email to the WOC.
    Other places wich seems that fit best: Miami metro zoo, San Antonio zoo, Florida central zoo, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, San Diego Safari Animal park, Cincinnaty (because their experience with Sumatrans)?

    Whether all to be in USA or some in Europe, or Indonesia (but there is a great possibility of disease outbreaks, like Sura who whiped out many captive sumatran rhinos on Sumatra). It is best all to be on just one Continent, and the climate in US is more favourable. It would be good to try first with several animals (eg. 2-3), and if they are doing well, more to be captured, and eventualy all.
     
  5. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    Numbers should not be the only factor in determining the level of conservation a species needs. Sumatran and Javan rhinoceros are both in immediate danger of extinction.

    There are less than 100 Sumatrans left, and they are all scattered in fragmented habitat. This makes finding a mate quite difficult.

    There are around 60 Javan rhinos left in Ujung Kulon National Park - this is an increase from past population estimates. These animals are concentrated in this remote park, making it easier for breeding. However, disease or natural disasters can quickly wipe out an significant portion of the population. Patrol units haven't experienced signs of poaching in years.

    Any species that is currently flourishing in captivity once had significant issues with mortality and husbandry. Given the right conditions with today's knowledge, Sumatran rhinos could flourish in captivity. Javan rhinos will go through a similar bottleneck if there are to be brought into captivity.

    Proper authorities are very much aware of the situation at hand, including the IUCN Asian Rhino Group. This group of stakeholders would be the ones to initiate any conservation project for these rhinos. There is no need to contact them unless you have resources that they can use to further conserve the rhinoceros.

    As for captive breeding, places like White Oak are only willing to take on species that they can manage in a low-budget situation. Their breeding success has more to do with the success of the individual rhinos, and the amount of risk staff is willing to take. Black and Sumatran rhinos have not done well there in recent history.

    Miami, San Antonio, Central Florida, and Lowry Park do not have the financial resources to take on such a project. SDWAP is in a scrub/desert environment. While Cincinnati might have the space, staff, and finances to make such a project happen - its climate is not ideal. The knowledge and ability of managing wildlife in reserves has increased with the advancement of technology of GPS, remote cameras, and genetic marking. In our modern times, its best to collect data (and genetic samples) and wait it out for animals like the Javan rhinoceros. What they really need is a second reserve.
     
  6. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    Well said!

    :p

    Hix
     
  7. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Well said tought. But I still will present this idea to the IUCN Asian specialist group, I will just sent them my opinion like idea from animal lover.

    As to the climate, the climate it's not limiting factor for successfull breeding, but can be more like welfare factor for the animal. Here I would love to mention the success of European zoos to breed and keep animals, altough the general climate of Europe is wet, with not enough sunshine (or solar hours), and quite cold in winters and as for summers (In bigger parts, European coordinates are tied up with the Canadian one) (except Spain, Portugal, Italy and Balkans (eg. Greece, R. Macedonia or Albania)). Even the Europeans breed and keep more zoo animals than American zoos (with few notiable exceptions, like Okapi, Malayan tigers, Black rhinoceros, Golden lion headed tamarin, generic tigers, gerenuks, Massai giraffe, bairds tapir, birds of paradise, Komodo dragons, etc.)
     
  8. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    More immediate action might be to clear shrubbery of spiny palm to create some grassy grazing clearings for rhinos and banteng.

    It is widely cited that dense forest is poor feeding habitat for the grazing Javan rhino, only the last refuge from hunters. Still, nothing is done about this.

    Another priority would be to count gender, age and relatedness of individual rhinos using camera traps and DNA testing in dung samples. 60 year of talking there is only a guesstimate of the approximate number.

    Many of the supposedly 60 rhinos are likely post-reproductive, and the population is probably extremely inbred. It is even possible that elderly animals and males exclude the few breeding females and young from the little available feeding habitat.
     
  9. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    Climate is always a factor for successful breeding. While tropical animals can and do breed well at zoos in Northern climates, it will also be much more expensive to do so.

    In addition, taking wild-caught animals adapted to a tropical climate into zoos with temperate climates will hamper any breeding program you want to achieve. This will delay any potential early reproductive success until such animals adapt to their new surroundings.
     
  10. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    Why not take an honest retroperspective look at the previous history of ex-situ husbandry of both Javan and Sumatran rhinos to see that sending emails to the Rhino specialist group is a waste of time?
     
  11. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Equal honesty should be applied to conservation in situ.

    Honesty forces to admit that there is a certain level of poaching pressure and organizational disorder where it becomes impossible to keep such poaching-prone animals as rhinos alive in the wild for the longer term, and this level is exceeded.

    In fact, for every one individual Javan or Sumatran rhino which left to a zoo, I can name three places where whole wild population of rhinos was extinguished by poachers.

    Honest look also shows that very few Javan rhinos were ever exported to zoos, at the time when wild animal husbandry was in its infancy, and this species is very similar to Indian rhino which thrives in zoos.

    Comparing to Sumatran rhino, which is a browser from different genus and different husbandry requirements shows poor understanding of animal biology.

    Currently, honesty forces to admit that there is spoil-others mentality in rhino conservation: 'I cannot protect rhinos myself but I will not give them to anybody other'.
     
  12. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Very relevant. Unlike Sumatran rhino which has proved an extremely difficult captive subject, Indian rhino is now freely breeding, even at capacity in European zoos and where new holders are being sought for the surplus. Wouldn't it be good to have the very closely-related Javan rhino in that situation too? I believe they would be no harder to keep and propogate in captivity- if a small nucleus could first be obtained. However political interia/ reluctance leads me to think its unlikely to ever happen. But I think the idea of removing most/all Javans from existing wild habitat would be wrong though- just half a dozen of right age/sex classes for breeding, would be sufficient and an insurance against any natural disaster or the fact there is insufficient suitable grazing habitat in Ujong Kulon to carry a bigger population than at present.
     
  13. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

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    What about cloning? Now I understand that, at the moment, relying on cloning to boost a species' numbers may seem more like science fiction than something which can be reasonably done but as the science develops, cloning seems to be becoming more of a conservational reality.

    While the majority of cloning work seems to be focusing on currently Extinct species, lately it seems the technique is being shined more towards highly endangered ones as well. San Diego's new project to clone Northern White Rhinos for example. With Indian Rhinos flourishing in captivity and being the perfect surrogate, wouldn't cloning become a near-perfect option for Javan Rhino conservation (assuming the technology continues to advance and San Diego has success with its program)? While I'm not exactly sure how many museum specimens and preserved DNA we have of Javan Rhinos (or indeed the now-Extinct Vietnamese Rhino) but even if we did not have enough surely it might be possible to obtain some from the wild population?

    Starting a captive population through cloning would not only allow us to create a diverse captive population, but also allow us to leave the entirety of the wild population alive and well in the wild.

    Of course, that's all assuming the technology works the way it's supposed and hoped to.

    ~Thylo:cool:
     
  14. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

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    That actually is a major issue-in all honesty ;): international collaboration in regard to rhino conservation could be better, and I’ve heard that Indonesian red tape and local interests (fear of losing jobs) haven’t been all too helpful in the cause.
    Being more or less closely related doesn’t automatically guarantee 100% equal husbandry demands. Now THAT would show inadequate understanding of biology, wouldn’t it? :p
    Anyhow, I share Pertinax’s reasoning; it’s a bit late for Javan rhino ex-situ breeding.

    As for cloning: Colin Tudge already sugested that in 1994. What I’ve seen at ACRES and other institutions so far on this behalf hasn’t really convinced me of it as a suitable alternative, though.
     
  15. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    Cloning isn't going to help at the moment. The success rate for cloning is absurdly small, somewhere around 1%. Fine if you're working with mice in a lab, but with rhinos? No.

    There just aren't that many rhino wombs available. One day when we've figured a way to get cloning more reliable, or we have artificial wombs and can just brute force clone hundreds of rhinoceros and hope to get a few live ones.
     
  16. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    But the last one for Javan rhino dates from 1907 from Adelaide zoo. Thats very long time ago when zoos were seen as menagerie zoos in wich ex situ (city :) ) conservation was not priority.

    Why waste of time, I alreday send them one email, I spent 5 minutes :p
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2016
  17. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: 28 Feb 2016
  18. ThylacineAlive

    ThylacineAlive Well-Known Member

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    I think you mean ex-situ conservation.

    And it's a waste of time because the collection(s) will not take you seriously and thus not respond.

    @lamna, I know cloning isn't going to help at the moment, and I know it's harder to do with rhinos than some other animals. I was just suggesting it as a possible alternative at some point in the future should the technology advance enough and San Diego have some success with their Northern White Rhino plan.

    ~Thylo:cool:
     
  19. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

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    Well tehnical mistake, thank you I will correct. No I just sent email to IUCN Asian rhino specialis group
     
  20. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Regarding cloning: this is more a hypothetical possibility in future decades.

    As others pointed, knowledge of rhino physiology is poor, and there are hardly any surrogate mothers. Besides, there is no samples of cells from Javan rhinos, either.

    Every species requires slightly different technique of cloning. So for example, cloning sheep, mice and rhesus turned quite easy, but cloning a cat failed until years later. In the only two cases where wild endangered species was cloned (gaur and Pyrenean ibex) they were very close relatives of well known domestic animals: cow and goat.