World Rhino Day 2023
World is Better When They Population Getting Bigger
World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22 every year. It was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. This event creates an avenue for N.G.O.s, zoos, wildlife conservation centers, research centers, and concerned individuals to unite and seek new ways to save the rhinos from total extinction. The celebration is also to spread awareness about rhino conservation and emphasize the importance of saving all the five species of rhinos in the world; White Rhino, Black Rhino, Greater One-Horned, Javan Rhino, and Sumatran Rhino. The tagline is Keep the Five Alive. We are in Ujung Kulon National Park, of course celebrating it specially for Javan Rhino.
Before the end of the 19th century, the Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) population was widespread across Southeast Asia. Traditional Asian medicine believed rhino horns and blood contain a cure for cancer, fever, convulsions, and, the favorite one, increased male virility. It is very important to debunk the myths and diminish the demand for rhino horn. There is no clinical proof that it has any medical value. Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same as our hair and fingernails. Rhino horn is clearly not medicine. But they were heavily poached for their horns and left to bleed to death. Now the Javan rhino is the rarest of the five rhinoceros species. It is estimated to have only 60 individuals remaining in the wild (Haryono, 2016). They all live in a single population in Ujung Kulon National Park.
Although Peucang Island belongs to the conservation area, we do not come into direct contact with Javan rhinoceros. Their habitat is located across the island, the Ujung Kulon Peninsula. They live in the core zone, the area which is prohibited for the regular tourist. But sometimes the guests found the rhino footprint in the trekking path which is open to them. It is the foodstep, the mud on the trees, or their feces. If you ask can we easily meet the javan rhino during your trip to Ujung Kulon National Park, the answer is no. They are extremely shy animals which prefer to hide from humans, and frequently attack aggressively when they are face to face with us.
The Ujung Kulon National Park staff has made efforts to protect this conservation area, one of which is conducting regular patrols. In 2022, the Minister of Environment and Forestry, released the news that the Javan rhinoceros has now grown to 77 individuals. This is very good news to the world. The biggest support for Ujung Kulon National Park from all over the world of course aimed for its flag species, the Javan rhinoceros. Humans also feel the benefits of environmental sustainability. One of it, a place to visit to breathe fresh air after a lifetime of breathing the pollution in Jakarta and surrounding cities. However, there are still many threatening issues, such as population density and the threat of poaching, which surprisingly have not ended. There are still many efforts that must be made to protect the rhinos. Only if the rhino population continues to grow will there be evidence that the world is getting better and not the other way around.