KEY POINTS

  • 2 Javan rhino calves were spotted at a protected area in Indonesia
  • The species can now only be found in Ujung Kulon National Park
  • The presence of the two calves brings hope for the survival of the species

"Extremely rare" Javan rhinoceros calves were spotted at a national park in Indonesia, sparking hopes for the future of the critically endangered creatures.

Authorities announced on Sunday that two Javan rhinoceros calves were spotted at Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park, AFP reports. According to the outlet, the two calves were seen from March to August in footage from close to 100 camera traps in the facility. A male and a female, the two calves have been named Helen and Luther, and their presence now brings the number of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros to 74.

This brings hope for the future of the species, the most threatened of the five rhino species.

In the past, Javan rhinos were widespread across Southeast Asia and northeast India, with their numbers in the thousands. But today, because of threats, such as natural disasters, habitat loss, economic development, disease and  poaching, their numbers have dwindled down to less than 80.

Further, because the species now only has a few remaining members, inbreeding is also causing low genetic diversity, which is problematic for the survival of the species in the long term.

Today, the remaining population of Javan rhinoceros can only be found in the Ujung Kulon National Park protected area.

"The population in Ujung Kulon National Park represents the only hope for the survival of a species that is on the brink of extinction," WWF writes. "If we lose the population in Java, the entire species will disappear."

The problem is that Ujung Kulon National Park itself is also vulnerable to natural disasters and, it is said to have reached its carrying capacity for rhinos, partly due to the presence of the Arenga Palm tree, which has reduced the habitat quality and natural forage. The facility is also quite close to Mount Krakatau, the active volcano that left 36,000 people dead in 1883.

To save the population, efforts are already being made to remove the encroaching palm tree from the area while authorities are already looking into relocating the creatures and looking for a second possible location where another population of Javan rhinos may flourish.

javan-rhino The Javan rhinoceros is a critically endangered animal that lives in Indonesia. Photo: Reuters