Are There Rhinos In Vietnam?

credit: Yay

Rhinos are among the most astonishing creatures you can see; they are a strange mix between elephants and unicorns. Sadly, this animal has suffered terribly from poaching for the last fifty years, which has reduced its population significantly across Africa and Asia. Will you find rhinos if you travel to the Asian country of Vietnam?

No, there are no rhinos left in Vietnam. The last Vietnamese rhino (also known as the Java rhino) was shot in 2010 by rhino poachers. Rhinos used to live in the Vietnamese lowlands; however, the high prevalence of poaching and habitat destruction for agriculture have driven them to extinction. 

Related: Are There Elephants In Vietnam?

There Are No Rhinos Left In Vietnam

Tragically, there are no rhinos left in Vietnam. The Vietnamese rhino, also known as the Javan rhino, was shot by poachers in April 2010.

The last Javan rhino in Vietnam was a grown female (estimated to be around fifteen to twenty-five years old) roaming in the Cat Tien National Park. The rhino was found by park rangers, who noticed that she had been shot in the leg and robbed of her horn.

Rhinoceros painting in Vietnam
Yay Rhinoceros painting in Vietnam

The rhino horn trade in Vietnam is a big problem. Unfortunately, numerous campaigns to change the public’s perception of rhino horns have not been as successful as hoped. So, there is still a deep belief among the Vietnamese people that rhino horns have real healing powers.

Where Did The Vietnamese Rhinos Live In Vietnam?

The Javan rhinos used to be very common in the lowlands of the Vietnamese country. Unbeknownst to many, these rhinos played an important role in their ecological system. Rhinos help spread seeds across the land; they eat plants in one area and leave their dung in another. They also help shape the habitat for smaller animals, creating natural trails through the dense forests.

Nowadays, the few remaining Javan rhinos (between forty and sixty individuals) can only be found in Java, Indonesia, in the Ujung Kulon National Park. They are smaller than the typical African rhinos that are heavily featured in mainstream media; they do not exceed six feet in height and can weigh anywhere between two and five thousand pounds.

The species is listed as critically endangered, given their small numbers and single habitat on Java.

Why Are There No Rhinos Left In Vietnam?

Poaching and habitat loss are two major causes of the disappearance of rhinos in Vietnam.

Rhinos In Vietnam Have Been Poached To Extinction

Poaching is considered the primary reason, as it was prevalent in the country until the animal’s extinction (in Vietnam).

Poachers are so determined to get their hands on Rhino horns made a huge effort to find the very last rhino in the Cat Tien National Park and steal its horn after killing it. Poachers typically kill the animal, so there is no struggle when cutting the horn off.

Rhinoceros mural in Saigon Vietnam
Yay Rhinoceros mural in Saigon, Vietnam

Despite scientific research clearly showing that rhino horns, made of the same material (keratin) as nails and hair, have none of the healing properties that people in Asia think they do, the illegal rhino horn trade persists greatly in Vietnam (and other Asian countries).

With close to rhinos left in Asia, many horns are illegally poached in Africa for the Asian black market, endangering these subspecies.

Vietnamese Rhinos Have Lost Their Habitat

Another primary reason rhinos have been driven to extinction in Vietnam is the destruction of their natural habitat. Their natural land was destroyed mostly to convert it for agricultural development. As a result, the species’ habitat was reduced by more than fifty percent from 1998 (seventy-five thousand hectares) to today (thirty thousand hectares).

Habitat loss and poaching have not just been an issue within the Vietnamese rhino’s final habitat in Cat Tien National Park but have been a problem across the entire country. The lack of financial investment in wildlife protection and enforcement of the regulations has significantly helped poachers reach their target animals without getting caught.

As a result, critically endangered animals draw closer to extinction in Vietnam. Without improving the current state of wildlife conservation efforts, other animals in the country will suffer the same end as the Vietnamese rhino.

What Are Rhino Horns Used For In Vietnam?

It turns out that Vietnam, along with China, is one of the world’s largest consumers of rhino horns. The high demand for horns does not just threaten the rhino populations in Asia; it also heavily affects African rhinos whose horns are poached and illegally brought to Asia.

Rhino horns are used for various purposes, but medicine is the most common. Despite no legitimate research to suggest that rhino horns have natural medical properties, Vietnamese use rhino horns to treat conditions like fevers, hangovers, and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. In cases where someone is terminally ill, the horn can act as more of a symbol than a medicine.

In addition to medicine, rhino horns can also serve as a symbol of strength or wealth. Gifting rhino horns to business partners or other social acquaintances can be a great way to display one’s power and financial wealth.

Generally, the segment of the Vietnamese population that shows interest in rhino horns does not show concern for the illegal rhino horn trade’s negative impact on rhino populations worldwide.

The media campaigns that tried to raise awareness and change the public’s mind about rhino horns have generally fallen short. The belief among the Vietnamese population that rhino horns can cure illnesses remains strong. It will take considerable effort to change the public’s mind, which is terrible news for the few remaining wild rhinos in Asia and Africa.

Where Are Rhinos In Asia?

Only five rhino species remain in the world, three of which can be found in Asia. The Javan rhino, found in Vietnam until 2010, can now only be seen on the island of Java in Indonesia.

You can find the greater one-horned rhino in Nepal and India and the Sumatran rhino in Sumatra and Borneo. The Sumatran rhino and the Javan rhino are categorized as ‘critically endangered.

The Last Javan Rhinos Can Be Found In Java, Indonesia

Java Island houses the remaining Javan rhinos (between forty and sixty individuals). They are located in the Ujung Kulon National Park. Rangers monitoring the rhinos have noticed calves among the crash of rhinos, which is promising.

However, there are still concerns among conservationists that the Javan rhino remains in danger of extinction. Natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions could potentially wipe out the remaining Javan rhinos.

What Is The Largest Animal In Vietnam?

Before its extinction in 2010, the Javan rhino was still not the largest animal you could find in Vietnam. That title belongs to the Asian Elephant.

Much like rhinos, elephants in Vietnam have also suffered greatly from humans. There used to be thousands of wild elephants around the country, but the population has dwindled to a mere one hundred.

Elephant rides used to be very common but is now being critiqued. Tourists in Asia should avoid these attractions as the animals are often mistreated behind the scenes. Instead, tourists can find activities involving observing wild elephants without disturbing them.

Which Country Has The Most Rhinos?

Currently, South Africa has the highest population of rhinos. Most of the sixteen thousand white rhinos in Africa can be found in South Africa. This species of rhinos came extremely close to extinction just twenty years ago. Still, they made a miraculous recovery thanks to conservation efforts. You can also find almost half of the six thousand Black rhinos in South Africa.