The International Rhino Foundation (IRF), an RRF grantee, is often asked how long one would need to spend in Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP) to see a Javan rhino. The answer is that it could take a lifetime. Javan rhinos are shy and tend to hide from people in the dense rainforest that is UKNP. Even members of the Rhino Protection Units (RPU) that patrol the park on a daily basis rarely see the rhino even though they document various signs of their presence.
Because it is so uncommon, spotting a Javan rhino is a special experience and one not soon forgotten. Inov, IRF’s Indonesia Program Manager, fondly remembers his chance meeting with the Critically Endangered rhino.
A makeshift canoe was fastened from available buoyant materials, and paddles were cut from fallen branches. Amazingly, and to the credit of the RPU’s knowledge and innovation, the makeshift craft was watertight and took to the river without any flaws.
And, there it was—a Javan rhino! Bibhab was able to alert all of the members of the boat and everyone was able to share the moment before the rhino disappeared into the dense forest. “I had no expectations, and that is important for anyone hoping to see a Javan rhino,” said Inov. “It increased the joy of actually seeing one.”