Wildlife Forensics Helps Evaluate Death of Vietnam’s Last Javan Rhino


Wildlife forensic analysis proves the Vietnamese Javan rhino discovered last April in Cat Tien National Park was shot a few months before it died. The Javan rhino is extremely rare. There are just an estimated 60 left in the world and are found only in two small protected areas in Viet Nam and Indonesia. This Javan rhino may well have been the last one in Vietnam.

Following the discovery of its decomposed carcass in April 2010, an international team (from WWF, Cat Tien National Park, USFWS, Freeland Foundation & more), began looking into the cause of death. At that time, I became involved by helping to connect some of these professionals.

Their findings are now available and show the animal had extensive injuries from a bullet that led to “severe damage, infection and impaired mobility for the rhinoceros for several months before it died.” These injuries would have made it easier for poachers to track the animal.

Still pending are the results from DNA analysis on the status of the Javan rhinoceros population, which should be able to tell whether this tragic death really means Vietnam’s Javan rhinoceros population is now extinct. For more, click here.