Image: Javan rhino and calf
WWF via AFP-Getty Images
A Javan rhino and calf stare at a camera inside Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park before the mom knocked it over.
updated 5/29/2008 11:05:53 AM ET 2008-05-29T15:05:53

The world's rarest rhino, and one that's critically endangered, does not like the limelight.

A Javan rhino was captured on video attacking a camera set up in an Indonesian jungle to study the habits of the animal, apparently because she sensed the lens was a threat to her calf, the WWF said Thursday.

There are only around 70 Javan Rhinos in the wild, about 60 of which live in Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Java island. The remainder live in Vietnam.

In the first month of operation, five motion-triggered infrared video traps have captured two images of the camera-shy mother and calf, said Adhi Rachmat Hariyadi, head of the WWF's Ujung Kulon project.

"It is very unusual to catch a glimpse of the Javan Rhino deep inside the rain forest," he said in a statement.

WWF officials say they plan to relocate several of the rhinos in the park to another part of Indonesia in the hope that they breed. Otherwise, they fear the species could be wiped out in the event of disease or natural disaster.

Adhi said the WWF decided to implement the video technology based on the success of similar methods used to track rhinos in Sabah, Malaysia.

"With fewer than 60 Javan rhinos left in the wild, we believe this footage was well worth the risk to our equipment," he said.

"The assault on the camera still has us baffled," added WWF Malaysia photographer Stephen Hogg, "because we specifically use infrared lights as the source of illumination when we designed and built these units so as to not scare animals away when the camera activates."

Rhino numbers in Indonesia over the past 50 years have been decimated by rampant poaching for horns used in traditional Chinese medicines and destruction of forests by farmers, illegal loggers and palm oil plantation companies.

Apart from the 60 Javan Rhinos, there are thought to be around 300 Sumatran rhinos still alive in isolated pockets in the forests of Malaysia and Sumatra island.

As for the KO'd camera, Adhi noted that it "was relocated by a survey team and put back on its stand next day and hasn’t suffered molestation by a rhino since."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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