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Critically Endangered Javan rhino killed in Vietnam

10/05/2010 17:46:42

Javan rhino, taken in 2005. Credit WWF.

One of the rarest animals in the world has been killed by poachers in Vietnam

May 2010. A Javan rhino has been found dead in Vietnam's Cat Tien National, further endangering the population of one of the world's rarest large mammals. It is now uncertain how many, if any, Javan rhinos are left in Vietnam, WWF said.

Killed by poachers
The rhino is suspected to have been killed by poachers after a scientific examination by WWF and national park authorities found the animal had been shot and the horn had been removed. Rhino horn is a highly valued commodity in the illegal wildlife trade, with the skin and faeces used for alleged medicinal purposes.

The skull of the Javan rhino with its horn
removed, found in Cat Tien National Park,
Vietnam. Credit WWF.

Devastating news
"This is devastating news for rhino conservation and Vietnam," said Dung Huynh Tien, National Policy Coordinator of WWF Vietnam. "The loss of this rhino is symbolic of the grim situation facing endangered species like the rhino and tiger across Vietnam."

Local people first reported finding the body of a large mammal to National Park authorities on April 29. A forest patrol team was immediately deployed to the site where they confirmed the dead animal was a Javan rhino.

"WWF urges the Vietnamese Government to launch an urgent and extensive criminal investigation into this animal's death," said Dung Huynh Tien.

It is a criminal offence under Vietnamese law to trade, use or consume any part of an endangered animal such as the Javan rhino. Those convicted of this crime can face imprisonment and large fines.

Demand for rhino horn
Rhino poaching worldwide hit a 15-year high in 2009. The illegal trade is being driven by an Asian demand for horns, made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers.

Javan rhino bones found in Cat Tien National
Park. Credit WWF

Vietnam was highlighted as a country of particular concern at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in March, and Vietnamese nationals operating in South Africa have recently been identified in rhino crime investigations. 

Only 40-60 left alive anywhere in the world
Vietnam's Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) are one of only two populations of the species left on Earth. Official estimates say there are fewer than 60 Javan rhino left. The largest population of approximately 40-60 is found in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia. There are no Javan rhinos in captivity in the world.

WWF recently finished a field survey using highly trained sniffer dogs from the US to locate rhino dung. These dung samples will undergo DNA analysis to determine the exact population status of the species. Results from this study will be available later this year.

WWF will send samples taken from the dead rhino to Queen's University in Canada for analysis to see if the DNA of the dead rhino matches any of the dung samples taken during the population status survey.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

Buddhism affirms the unity of all living beings, all equally posses the Buddha-nature, and all have the potential to become Buddhas, that is, to become fully and perfectly enlightened. Among the sentient, there are no second-class citizens. According to Buddhist teaching, human beings do not have a privileged, special place above and beyond that of the rest of life. The world is not a creation specifically for the benefit and pleasure of human beings. Furthermore, in some circumstances according with their karma, humans can be reborn as humans and animals can be reborn as humans. In Buddhism the most fundamental guideline for conduct is ahimsa-the prohibition against the bringing of harm and/or death to any living being.

The Buddha taught that all sentient beings, including those in the animal realm, possess Buddha nature and therefore can attain enlightenment and that from infinite rebirths, all animals have been our past relatives, sisters, mothers, brothers, fathers and children. Therefore it is against the first precept to harm, kill or eat sentient beings as it is the same as harming, killing or eating the flesh of our own child or mother.

In the West, the belief that animals are evolving towards enlightenment and seek the comforts of spirituality and union with God would be considered an extreme perspective at best. It is interesting to note, however, that the birds and little creatures of the forest gathered at the feet of St. Francis of Assisi as he spoke to them of their Creator. His great mystic heart reached out to his "little brothers and sisters" as he called them, while on the other side of the world Buddhists selected the same terms to describe animals.

I shall dedicate the Medicine Buddha prayer for the Rhino
'With the Medicine Buddha mantra you can liberate numberless sentient beings from oceans of suffering and bring them to enlightenment.' - Lama Zopa. Tayata Om Bekanze Bekanze Maha BeKanze Radza Samudgate Soha
In the Bhaiṣajyaguruvaidūryaprabharāja Sūtra, the Medicine Buddha is described as having entered into a state of samadhi called "Eliminating All the Suffering and Afflictions of Sentient Beings." From this samadhi state he spoke the Medicine Buddha Dharani.
namo bhagavate bhaiṣajyaguru
vaiḍūryaprabharājāya tathāgatāya
arhate samyaksambuddhāya tadyathā:
oṃ bhaiṣajye bhaiṣajye mahābhaiṣajya-samudgate svāhā.

Posted by: Dianne | 11 May 2010 11:14:01

Critically Endangered Javan rhino killed in Vietnam

This is just so sad to think there are so few of these animals left. That they are taken from this world just for there tusk is even more upsetting

Posted by: Daniel McHenry | 11 May 2010 01:22:08

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