Indonesia tsunami raises fears for endangered Javan rhino

Indonesia tsunami raises fears for endangered Javan rhino
The rhinos’ current sanctuary in the park comprises some 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest and freshwater streams. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 December 2018

Indonesia tsunami raises fears for endangered Javan rhino

Indonesia tsunami raises fears for endangered Javan rhino
  • There are believed to be fewer than 70 of the critically endangered species in a national park not far from a rumbling volcano that triggered Saturday's killer wave
  • None of the animals are believed to have been killed in the disaster, but officials warned of another deadly wave

JAKARTA: Indonesia's tsunami has raised fears that another deadly wave could wipe out the few dozen Javan rhinos still living in the wild, conservation authorities said Friday.
There are believed to be fewer than 70 of the critically endangered species in a national park not far from a rumbling volcano that triggered Saturday's killer wave.
None of the animals are believed to have been killed in the disaster -- which left more than 400 people dead -- but officials are warning that another deadly wave could slam into the stricken region.
That is putting pressure on conservationists at Ujung Kulon National Park, on the western tip of Indonesia's main island of Java, to ramp up a longstanding plan to find a suitable secondary habitat for the rhinos.
"It's become our duty to work harder to find a second habitat because the danger is real," national park chief Mamat Rahmat told AFP.
"We're lucky that the tsunami did not affect the Javan rhinos this time. But the threat is there and we need to act accordingly."
Widodo Ramono, head of the Rhino Conservation Foundation of Indonesia, added: "If you've only got one habitat and there's another tsunami, the rhinos could be wiped out completely."
Plans to find a second home for the species have been in the works for about eight years, with conservationists surveying areas all over Java and neighbouring Sumatra but so far without success, he said.
The size of the habitat, climate, food and water sources and safety from poachers are among the key criteria, Rahmat said.
"There are still a lot of issues to be worked out," he added.
The rhinos' current sanctuary in the park comprises some 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest and freshwater streams.
Several years ago, three calves were filmed in the national park, raising hopes for the future of the world's rarest rhino after years of population decline.
The shy creature, whose folds of loose skin give it the appearance of wearing armour plating, once numbered in the thousands and roamed across Southeast Asia.
But, like other rhino species across the world, poaching and human encroachment on its habitat has led to a dramatic population decline.
Poaching in particular represents a severe threat, with rhino horns used in traditional Asian medicine fetching ever higher prices on the black market despite a lack of scientific evidence showing the horn has any medicinal value.


Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
Updated 29 min 21 sec ago

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
  • The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia
  • Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed”

MOSCOW: Russian police detained dozens of protesters on Saturday as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets following his call to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
Putin’s most vocal domestic critic called for mass rallies after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent and returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany. He was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport and jailed.
The rallies — planned for dozens of cities across Russia — are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilize despite the increasing Kremlin pressure on critics and the coronavirus pandemic.
The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Chita where several thousand took to the streets, Navalny supporters said.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at opposition rallies, said around 50 people were detained in 10 cities.
Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed.”
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest rallies, protesters plan to meet in the central Pushkin Square at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) and then march toward the Kremlin.

On the eve of the rallies, Navalny, who is being held in Moscow’s high-security Matrosskaya Tishina jail, thanked his supporters.
“I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come,” he said on Friday.
Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share,” she said on Instagram.
Ahead of the demonstrations several key Navalny aides were taken into police custody for violating protest laws and handed short jail sentences to keep them away from the rallies.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Friday it launched a criminal probe into the calls for unauthorized protests.
A hastily organized court on Monday jailed Navalny for 30 days, and his supporters fear that authorities are preparing to sentence him to a long prison term to silence him.
Navalny’s team this week released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.
The “Putin’s palace” report alleges the Russian leader owns a 17,691 square meter mansion that sits on a property 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino along with a theater and a hookah lounge complete with a pole-dancing stage.
The two-hour video report had been viewed more than 65 million times since Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.
The Kremlin has denied the property belongs to Putin.
Many Russians took to social media — including video sharing app TikTok hugely popular with teens — to voice support and urge a large turnout on Saturday.
A hashtag demanding freedom for Navalny was trending on TikTok as Russians flooded the Chinese app with thousands of videos.
Russia’s media watchdog warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies or risk hefty fines.
The watchdog said on Friday that media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, removed content at its request.
Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte blocked groups created to coordinate the protests in different cities.
But a number of public figures — including those who usually steer clear of politics — have spoken out in Navalny’s support.
Navalny, 44, rose to prominence a decade ago and has become the central figure of Russia’s opposition movement, leading large-scale street protests against corruption and electoral fraud.
His arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.