Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Scientists celebrate offspring of world's rarest rhino species

Conservationists have found signs of four Javan rhinos born in recent weeks on Indonesia's Java island, a development that would be a critical boost to the population of one of the world's rarest species, activists said Tuesday.

"The discovery of the rhino babies indicates that reproduction continues and regeneration can be guaranteed," Agus Primabudi, head of the Ujung Kulon National Park, told state-run Antara news agency.

He said the offspring varied in size, with the smallest front and back foot prints measured at 17-18 centimetres in diameter, and the largest at 23-24 centimetres.

He explained that the data on footprints was collected by a team of biologists, including park rangers and the World Wide Fund for Nature staff, during a routine census to determine the estimated number of rhinoceros population.

Primabudi said because of the distance between the areas where the discoveries were made and the differences in the size of the footprints, the team concluded there is evidence of four different calves.

Scientists said that Javan rhinos are found only in two locations in the world, in the Ujung Kulon National Park in western Java, and in one area in Vietnam.

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