Javan rhino 'now extinct in Vietnam'
By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News Genetic analysis of rhino dung samples revealed that there was only one individual left in Vietnam
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A critically endangered (external - login to view) species of rhino is now extinct in Vietnam, according to a report by conservation groups.
The WWF and the International Rhino Foundation said the country's last Javan rhino was probably killed by poachers, as its horn had been cut off.
Experts said the news was not a surprise, as only one sighting had been recorded in Vietnam since 2008.
Fewer than 50 individuals are now estimated to remain in the wild.
"It is painful that despite significant investment in Vietnamese rhino conservation, efforts failed to save this unique animal, " said WWF's Vietnam director Tran Thi Minh Hien.
"Vietnam has lost part of its natural heritage."
The authors of the report, Extinction of the Javan Rhino from Vietnam, said genetic analysis of dung samples collected between 2009-2010 in the Cat Tien National Park showed that they all belonged to just one individual.
Shortly after the survey was completed, conservationists found out that the rhino had been killed. They say it was likely to have been the work of poachers because it had been shot in a leg and its horn had been cut off.
Globally, there has been a sharp increase in the number of rhino poaching cases. Earlier this year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published a report that said rhino populations in Africa were facing their worst poaching crisis for decades (external - login to view).
An assessment carried out by Traffic, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, said the surge in the illegal trade in rhino horns was being driven by demands from Asian medicinal markets.
Over the past three years, gangs are said to have killed more than 800 rhinos for their horns, which can fetch £22,000 per kilo on the black market.