Indonesia’s tsunami has raised fears that another deadly wave could wipe out the few dozen Javan rhinos still living in the wild, according to conservation authorities.
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 the recent 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.
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.