Javan rhino extinct in Vietnam
The critically-endangered Javan rhinoceros has become extinct in Vietnam, conservationists have said.
The species had been thought to have disappeared from mainland Asia until 1988, when an individual was hunted in the Cat Tien area of Vietnam, leading to the discovery of a small population.
But efforts to conserve the remaining Javan rhinos in Cat Tien National Park have failed, experts said.
Genetic analysis of 22 dung samples collected between 2009 and 2010 by a survey team from Cat Tien National Park and wildlife charity WWF, has revealed that they all belonged to a single individual which was found dead in April last year.
WWF and the International Rhino Foundation have confirmed that the species is now extinct in Vietnam.
The critically-endangered species is now believed to be confined to a single population of less than 50 individuals in a small national park in Indonesia.
Poaching is being blamed as the primary cause of the species vanishing from Vietnam, with the last rhino discovered dead with a bullet in its leg and its horn removed.
Conservationists said the ineffective protection of the species in the national park was the ultimate cause of its extinction in Vietnam, while habitat loss also played a key role.
Illegal hunting of the animals is driven by demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is used for traditional medicine.
Tran Thi Minh Hien, WWF-Vietnam country director, said: "It is painful that despite significant investment in the Vietnamese rhino population conservation efforts failed to save this unique animal. Vietnam has lost part of its natural heritage."