Leopard discovery in Java, Indonesia


This video is about leopards.

From Antara news agency in Indonesia:

Leopard detected in conservation forests in East Java

Tue, February 4 2014 23:33

Tulungagung, E Java – The East Java chapter of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) has detected Javanese leopards (Panthera pardus melas) in four conservation forests in the region, stated its head, Hartoyo.

He released the statement here on Tuesday, in response to a declaration on saving the endangered Javanese leopard issued at a Javanese leopard conservation conference in Bogor, West Java, on January 29-30, 2014.

“So far, we have come to know about it, based on the reports indicating the existence of the wild animal and also from some eye witnesses,” he remarked during a telephonic conversation, when asked to give confirmation about the existence of the Javanese leopard.

He admitted that the existence of the Javanese leopard was not properly documented as it is not included as species whose protection must be prioritized based on the ministerial regulation.

The Javanese bull (Bos javanicus), Javanese eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi), and cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) have been identified by the ministry as three rare species and their monitoring has been prioritized.

The Javanese leopard is not included in the BKSDAs monitoring priority list as it is not included in the list of protected animals, although its existence in the forests is almost extinct.

“We are awaiting a legal decision to declare the Javanese leopard as a protected animal before we can make any protection plans,” he emphasized.

He explained that the existence of the big cat has been threatened by the loss of habitat due to deforestation as well as conflict with humans and diseases.

In the past five years, the Javanese leopard has been spotted in the Ijen (Bondowoso), Sempu (Malang), Sigoho, and Picis (Ponorogo) forests, he claimed.

However, their existence had yet to be confirmed based on the research and scientific monitoring data, he added.

“Now, confirmation of its existence is based on an ocular analysis and general information obtained from the witnesses. There has been no direct contact between the BKSDA officials and the animal, except in Ijen, some time ago,” he stated.

Leopard observer Hendra Gunawan pointed out that the Javanese leopard is the only big cat that still exists in Java after the Javanese tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) was declared extinct in the 1980s.

“Thus, unless serious efforts are made to protect the leopard, the fate of this big cat will also follow suit,” he remarked at the conference in Bogor.

The Javanese leopard has been categorized as critically endangered species and put in the list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature under the category Appendix I in CITES.

No exact data is available on the exact numbers of the Javanese leopard existing in the forests of Java.

“Since mapping was conducted four years ago, the animal was mostly found in Halimun-Salak or Pangrango Mountain (West Java),” Hendra reported.

Reporting by Slamet Agus Sudarmojo

February 2014: Two men have been arrested in Malaysia by wildlife authorities following the discovery of a leopard carcass and a mouse deer at a bus stop near the town of Karak, in the state of Pahang, on the east coast of the country. Markings on the leopard’s foreleg indicate that a snare was used, a practice which is widespread among poachers in South-East Asia: here.

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Javan rhinoceros news from Indonesia


This video is called Rare Javan Rhinos Filmed.

By Arlina Arshad today:

Indonesia builds sanctuary to save world’s rarest rhino

On a leaf-covered dirt path overlooking lush paddy fields in western Indonesia, the world’s rarest rhino had left a trail of hoofprints in the soft mud and bite marks on foliage.

For people seeking a glimpse of the Javan rhino—revered in local folklore as Abah Gede, or the Great Father—such small signs are likely to be the closest they get.

There are thought to be only around 50 of the animals left in existence, all living in the wild in Ujung Kulon National Park, an area of stunning natural beauty on the western tip of Indonesia’s main island of Java.

But now conservationists are hoping that the country’s first ever Javan rhino sanctuary, which will open in the park in the coming months, can pull the animal back from the brink of extinction.

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, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature saying the animal is “making its last stand”.

The new sanctuary will encompass 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest, freshwater streams and mudholes in the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It is not due to open until March but park officials say that from hoofprints and bite marks, they believe nine rhinos have already wandered into new areas set aside for them.

“It means our scheme to turn this sanctuary into a comfortable home for them is working,” the park’s habitat manager Rusdianto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

The rhinos were already living mainly in one corner of the park.

But the new sanctuary has expanded the area suitable for them and relocated farmers who were living there to reduce the chances of animal-human conflict.

An electric fence is also being constructed—the final piece of work that needs to be completed—to mark the boundary and prevent the rhinos from straying out of the sanctuary and humans from coming in.

Park officials, who are government employees, have also been planting suitable food for the rhinos. During a recent visit by AFP, workers were seen clearing palm trees from the area and replacing them with shrubs and small trees.

“We hope this sanctuary will hasten breeding and lead to more births of this treasured rare animal,” park chief Moh Haryono told AFP.

“In a more enclosed space, the male and female rhino will have more opportunities to frolic and mate freely.”

Rhinos around the world are under threat

Yet setting up the sanctuary, which is government-run but fully funded by US-based charity the International Rhino Foundation, has been no easy task.

It was originally due to open in 2011 but was held up due to red tape, a common problem in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, which has a huge and often inefficient bureaucracy.

Work also stalled for a year due to protests from residents demanding compensation for farmland they had to give up, as well as from local animal activists who felt the use of heavy machinery to build the fence threatened the environment.

However all obstacles now seem to have been overcome and, barring any last-minute hold-ups, the sanctuary should officially open soon.

Nevertheless it is just a small step in an uphill battle to save the Javan rhino. Officials in Ujung Kulon believe there were 51 of the rhinos in 2012, including eight calves, basing their estimate on images captured by hidden cameras.

They hope the true figure may be in the 70s and will have a new estimate once data for 2013 has been collated.

The case of the Javan rhinoceros highlights the plight of rhinos across the world, with other species also deemed to be under threat and some subspecies already believed to have died out.

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 horn has any medicinal value.

In Indonesia, fewer than 100 of the critically endangered Sumatran rhinos remain; in 2011 the IUCN declared a rhino subspecies in western Africa extinct; and the group has said the Central African northern white rhino is “possibly extinct”.

Asia has stepped up efforts to save the region’s dwindling rhino populations, with representatives from several countries in October attending a conference on the issue on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Countries represented, including Indonesia, Nepal and India, pledged to take steps to grow their rhino populations by three percent annually.

For the Javan rhino, its population already decimated, the threat is no longer poaching but food scarcity, illness and the risk of natural disasters in an archipelago where earthquakes and landslides are common, according to WWF Indonesia.

Despite the myriad threats, wildlife officials are hopeful the new sanctuary is a step in the right direction.

They have also been heartened by strong support from the local community.

Any effort to save the Great Father is applauded in an area where centuries-old beliefs persist and intertwine with the vast majority’s Muslim faith.

“We must do all we can to prevent the Javan rhino from becoming extinct,” Suhaya, a 67-year-old farmer who goes by one name, told AFP.

“Locals here believe that Abah Gede must not vanish from the face of the Earth, or disaster will befall us.”

Explore further: Asian rhino conference hailed as major step forward.

See also here.

Fossil Javanese animal research


This video about the discovery of Pithecanthropus is called Trinil 1.

This video is Trinil 2.

This is Trinil 3.

From Naturalis museum in the Netherlands:

On Wednesday 10 December there will be live scientific research in the exhibition Dubois, discoverer of Pithecanthropus. Palaeobiologist Dr. Christine Hertler is measuring skulls and teeth of cattle and deer, which were exhumed by Eugene Dubois.

Pithecanthropus (Homo erectus), and the deer and cattle, lived about a million year ago in Java, Indonesia.

The discoverer of Pithecanthropus, Dr Eugene Dubois, was born in 1858 in the Netherlands; the exhibition commemorates that he was born 150 years ago.

He joined the Dutch colonial army in Indonesia as a doctor; because he thought he would be able to find fossil human ancestors in Java. The colonial authorities provided him with two sergeants and Indonesian forced labourers for his excavations around Trinil in East Java.

During his research, which started in the late nineteenth century, Eugene Dubois found about 40,000 Pleistocene animal fossils. Today, they are in the Naturalis collection.

For this exhibition, only a small part of them could be on show.

They include many mammals. Some of them now extinct species, some of them species still alive today. Stegodon trigonocephalus is a now extinct elephant species. Only a few Javanese rhinos live in West Java today. Then, that species lived also in East Java.

Hexaprotodon sivalensis soloensis is a now extinct relative of the hippopotamus. The small rat, Rattus trinilensis, was also part of the East Javanese Pleistocene fauna. Like the tapir, Tapirus indicus, still alive. The pig species Sus brachygnathus is extinct by now. Like the antelope species Duboisia santeng.

There were birds as well, including Tadorna tadornoides, the Australian shelduck. And the red-breasted goose. And the green peafowl.

According to Dr Hertler, comparatively few reptile fossils have been found in East Java, and not much research has been done on them. At the exhibition was a fragment of a monitor lizard, Varanus, fossil; of which it was not clear to which species it belonged. There were bones of the crocodile Crocodilus ossifragus. Another crocodile species, Gavialis bengawanicus, also lived near Trinil.

Dr Hertler said the big riverine turtles of the genus Batagur were the most commonly found fossil reptiles. She said that even bigger turtles, Geochelone atlas, had been found more to the west in Java; as far east as Sangiran.

Ms Hertler told me that now she is studying especially bovids and cervids; a student of hers is studying carnivorous mammals of Pleistocene Java in the Leiden fossil collection. By studying skulls and teeth of deer and cattle, she may find out in what kind of environment they (and Homo erectus) lived. Was it tropical rainforest; like all of Java would be today if there would have been no clearcutting for agriculture etc.? Was it savannah? Or something in between? And: Java being a big island, maybe there were local differences?

Teeth of deer and cattle tell whether the herbivores were browsing leaves from trees, or grazing grass from the ground; or maybe some combination of both. Sizes and limbs of animals say something on whether they lived on hard, dry grassland ground; or on soft, humid forest ground.

Her hypothesis is that Homo erectus, unlike earlier hominid species, was able to live in more than one type of environment. When the earlier species lived, there were already land bridges linking Africa to other continents. Yet, they did not use them. Probably because those early hominids were tied to one type of environment in Africa. Homo erectus, being more flexible, not being tied to one type of environnment any more, could travel all the way from Africa to Java.

Dr Hertler told me that that morning, many people had come to ask her questions, including a class of schoolchildren.

The most frequent deer species of the east Javan Pleistocene is Cervus lydekkeri; related to axis deer of today. Around Trinil, two other species have also been found. One of those is the slightly larger Cervus kendengensis. The small muntjac, still existing today, was there, but rarer than today, as the environment then was not as favourable for it: more tree savanna, less rainforest.

The most common fossil bovid is Bubalus palaeokarabau. Around Trinil lived the ancestor of the present banteng, Bibos palaeosondaicus. At the exhibition were also remains of Epileptobos groeneveldtii.

Dr Hertler told me that from the sizes of skulls the animals’ body mass can be reconstructed.

Are there traces of Homo erectus hunting, scavenging, or eating on the animal bones? I asked.

Unfortunately not, Ms Hertler replied. The East Javanese fossils are found in riverine deposits. If there would be any traces of hominids on those bones, that environment would delete those traces, making it highly improbable that they will be discovered there. This is unlike Africa, where it is possible to find hominid traces on animal bones.

It might be possible to find traces of hunting in caves in Java. Near Yogyakarta, there is a cave where porcupines have brought remains of other animals. Maybe we will find one where Homo erectus did something similar.

After a pre-study, about three years ago, and later studies of the “big and well organized” Dubois fossils collection, Dr Hertler had found that indeed there was a varied environment during the Pleistocene in Java, depending on place and time. Several types of environment co-existed simultaneously. And in many of those various Pleistocene places, Homo erectus fossils have been found. “We always discover new things”.

I have read about prehistoric orangutans in Java

Yes, much is uncertain about that, Ms Hertler replied. The teeth of hominids and of orangutans are very similar. So it is possible that teeth we have ascribed to Homo erectus will turn out to be orangutan teeth.

Why is most palaeontological research in Java done in the eastern part of the island? Because, Dr Hertler replied, the first Homo erectus fossils were found there. And because scientists want to find hominid fossils, which are most spectacular. Also, because West Java is more complex geologically, making the work harder.

Neanderthal genome already giving up its secrets: here.

Late Neanderthals and modern human contact in southeastern Iberia: here.

A new species of crown-antlered deer Stephanocemas (Artiodactyla, Cervidae) from the middle Miocene of Qaidam Basin, northern Tibetan Plateau, China, and a preliminary evaluation of its phylogeny: here.

First Potwarmus from the Miocene of Saudi Arabia and the early phylogeny of murines (Rodentia: Muroidea): here.

Indonesia: rare Javanese rhinos ‘baby boom’


This video is called Rare Javan Rhinos Filmed.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

In Indonesia, scientists have found traces of four young Javanese rhinoceroses.

According to the WWF, all four of them were born recently; this means an unprecedented ‘baby boom’ for this threatened species.

Of the five rhino species still alive in the wild, the Javanese rhino is the rarest.

In Indonesia, at most 56 are stil alive, and in Vietnam eight.

The animals are rarely seen as they live deep in the jungle.

WWF researchers saw footprints of three little rhinos and came eye to eye with the fourth one.

WWF calls the discovery a sign of hope for the species.

See also here.

World’s most endangered mammal, Javan rhino, captured on camera: here.

September 2010. An international partnership is racing against the clock to ensure the survival of the last viable population 48 Javan rhinos by carving out a safe haven in the dense jungles of Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. This entire viable population, living on the island of Java, is quite literally stuck between a rock and a hard place: here.

Sumatran rhino in Borneo: here.

The Sabah rhino population, a subspecies of the Sumatran rhino, has dropped to less than 50 individuals: here.