Two Poaching Groups Confess to Killing 26 Javan Rhinos

*This story is developing and details will be updated as information is released*

May 30, 2024

In an update to the Javan rhino poaching investigation, Banten Regional Police have announced the arrest of six additional suspects from two poaching groups, who have made a shocking confession of killing a total of 26 Javan rhinos. The last published population number from IUCN was 76 Javan rhinos in 2022, meaning a third of the entire population of this species may have been annihilated.  

Over the last decade, Javan rhino conservation has been considered a relative success, with their population stable and slowly growing thanks to at least one new birth every year. “Now the rug has been pulled out from under us,” said Nina Fascione, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF). “There have been concerns about rhinos missing from camera trap counts over the last few years, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were deceased, as this species is excellent at hiding. This confession seriously calls into question the number of Javan rhinos left in the world – 26 rhinos is what these perpetrators confessed to, but who knows how many have actually been killed?”

We are assured by our partners on the ground that the situation in Ujung Kulon National Park is stable now that local police and military have joined security efforts. This investigation is uncovering details of poaching that may have occurred between 2019 to 2023; as far as we know, no Javan rhinos have been poached in 2024. 

“Until recently, there was no evidence of rhino poaching in Ujung Kulon National Park for close to 20 years. Now we know that’s not the case and, in fact, it’s like pulling the thread: The closer we look the more problematic it becomes,” said Fascione. 

While we await further details on these disturbing confessions, IRF continues to work with our allies to ensure rigorous security measures remain in place. 

Original photo by Tobias Nowlan, courtesy of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry