Poachers in Vietnam have finally killed the country’s last wild rhinoceros, according to international conservation groups. The WWF and International Rhino Foundation (IRF) both confirmed the extinction this week, saying that the country’s last Javan rhino had been shot several times and had its horn removed.
The species had been critically endangered for many years. A 2004 survey conducted by Canada’s Queen’s University found at least two Javan rhinos living in Cat Tien National Park, southern Vietnam. But poaching and ineffective protection have led to the species’ demise, the WWF said.
“The tragedy of the Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros is a sad symbol of this extinction crisis,” said Nick Cox, Manager of WWF’s Species Programme in the Greater Mekong region. “The single most important action to conserve Vietnam’s endangered species is protecting their natural habitat and deterring poaching and illegal wildlife trade. The report shows that these actions were inadequate to save the Javan rhino in Vietnam and this continued situation will no doubt lead to the extinction of many more species from Vietnam. Vietnam’s protected areas need more rangers, better training and monitoring, and more accountability.”
Illegal hunting to supply the wildlife trade has reduced many species in Vietnam to small and isolated populations, the WWF said. The tiger, Asian elephant and other species like the saola, Tonkin snub-nosed monkey and Siamese crocodile are on the verge of extinction in the country.
Tran Thi Minh Hien, WWF’s Country Director for Vietnam said the country had “lost part of its natural heritage”.