While international interest is focused on the plight of the African rhino, the three forgotten Asian rhino species continue to slip quietly from view. The most elusive of these is the Javan Rhino, the rarest large mammal on Earth.
Forgotten Rhino presents the contrasting stories of two species of Asian rhinos — the battle to save the critically endangered Javan Rhino and the remarkable success story of human efforts to resurrect what was a dying species, the closely-related Indian rhinoceros. The film also acknowledges the desperate plight of Asia’s third species and the world’s smallest rhinoceros — the Sumatran rhinoceros.
Our story takes us to India’s Kaziranga National Park and Nepal’s Royal Chitwan National Park, both home to the Indian rhino. This species came near to extinction but has recovered in the protection of both India and Nepal’s wildlife sanctuaries. Kaziranga National Park is one of the world’s great conservation success stories with the population of rhinoceros now nearing the park’s carrying capacity. We go on patrol with the dedicated men who every day of the year protect the rhinoceros and the other creatures of Kaziranga, from the guns and snares of those who still try to poach the animals for short-term gain.
In Nepal’s Royal Chitwan National Park the numbers of rhinoceros have also increased to the extent that Nepal’s conservation authorities have perfected the process of reallocating rhinos. To date, over sixty rhinos have been taken from Chitwan to build new populations in one other national park and to start a new breeding group in a wildlife reserve. We follow a wild rhino translocation in Nepal to help set up the new rhino population in the remote Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve in the far west of the country.
And we journey deep into the unique Ujung Kulon National Park, at the Western tip of Java, in search of the Javan rhino. Our guide is Pak Saridja, an Indonesian ranger who has devoted his life to saving the Javan rhinoceros. This is Saridja’s last journey to monitor the rhinos, for he is retiring. We travel by boat up-river and trek through the dense rainforest. In the remote reaches of the jungle we wait in hope of catching a glimpse of the rhino.
In all three countries efforts are being made to stem the tide of poaching and to provide safe habitats in overcrowded regions of the world.
The question is, can these animals that have walked the earth for millions of years survive into the next millennium or will the pressure of human development see them disappear forever?