The last goodbye: Vietnam's rhino goes extinct (PICTURES)

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
October 26, 2011



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 Camera trap catches one of the world's last Vietnamese rhinos before its extinction.
Camera trap catches one of the world's last Vietnamese rhinos before its killing for the rhino horn trade. Photo courtesy of WWF.


In 2009 poachers shot and killed the world's last Vietnamese rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus), a subspecies of the Javan rhino. The Vietnamese rhino was the last rhino species that survived on the southeast Asia mainland.

Once roaming much of Southeast Asia—from Vietnam to the east, Thailand to the west, and Malaysia to the south—the Vietnamese rhino was initially thought extinct after the Vietnam war due to the proliferation of guns, but a single population of the Vietnamese was rediscovered in 1988.

The demise of the last rhino was brought about by a bullet, probably for the rhino horn trade. Rhinos are illegally killed for their horns, which are ground into traditional medicines used throughout eastern Asia, primarily in China and, more recently, Vietnam.

Vietnamese rhino. Photo courtesy of WWF.
Vietnamese rhino. Photo courtesy of WWF.

Though numerous scientific studies have shown that there are no medicinal benefits to consuming rhino horn—made mostly out of keratin, it's the nutritional equivalent of eating one's fingernails and hair—rhino poaching has hit new heights recently. In South Africa alone, 333 rhinos were killed by poachers last year to feed the black market demand in Asia.

Beyond poaching, the Vietnamese rhino also suffered from large-scale habitat loss, agricultural encroachment, and the inability of Vietnam to protect the last individuals even in one of its most famous parks.

Now that the Vietnamese subspecies is gone, conservation focus will presumably turn to the Javan rhino population in Ujung Kulon National Park. There are no Javan rhinos in captivity.

Across Asia and Africa, the same pressures—habitat destruction and poaching—have pushed all five of the world's rhino species, at one time or another, into endangerment. Three of the five species—the black, the Javan, and the Sumatran—are listed as Critically Endangered.

Vietnamese rhino. Photo courtesy of WWF.
Vietnamese rhino. Photo courtesy of WWF.













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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (October 26, 2011).

The last goodbye: Vietnam's rhino goes extinct (PICTURES).

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1026-vietnamese_rhino-pod.html