“R” is for Rhinos: Widodo Ramono

“R” is for Rhinos, and also for …. Widodo Ramono.

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Few people have dedicated more years to the study and conservation of Asian rhinos than Indonesian biologist Widodo Ramono. Born on April 4, 1945 in the Central Javan city of Blora, Widodo today serves as the executive director of Yayasan Badak Indonesia (YABI), the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia. Located in Bogor, YABI is the International Rhino Foundation’s principal partner in programs that are helping to ensure the survival of both Sumatran and Javan rhinos.

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Widodo is married with three grown children. He looks remarkable young for someone approaching seventy years of age and credits his general well being to a healthy diet and working outdoors. When not at YABI’s headquarters in Bogor, Widodo spends most of his time at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary or inspecting the work of Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) at Bukit Barisan Selatan, Way Kambas and Ujung Kulon National Parks. He also receives invitations from government authorities and international organizations to speak about rhino conservation efforts in Indonesia, where the final strongholds for the two rarest and most critically endangered species are found.

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Following his elementary and secondary school education in Blora, Widodo studied nature conservation at the Senior High School of Forestry in Bogor and later traveled internationally to receive technical training in forestry operations, national park administration, wildlife management, environmental impact assessment, conservation biology and public sector leadership. Since 1969, he has held a variety of civil servant positions in wildlife conservation, notable among them being the head of Nature Protection and Conservation of Ujung Kulon National Park, which now holds the world’s last known population of Javan rhinos – perhaps 40 to 50 individuals. Widodo’s lengthy career has also included the management of Asian elephant populations in southern Sumatra, and development of three Indonesian national parks (Bukit Barisan Selatan, Kerinci Seblat and Way Kambas). After completing his study on State Administration in Lampung, he was appointed forestry operations management chief in Aceh Province. And, as the former Director of Biodiversity Conservation for the Ministry of Forestry, he played a major role in establishing management practices for his country’s national parks, nature and game reserves, recreation forests, and wetlands.Widodo worked for The Nature Conservancy – Indonesia Programs after completing his work with for the Government of Indonesia.

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Last June, no one was more gratified than Widodo at the birth of Andatu, the first Sumatran rhino ever born in captivity in Indonesia. The birth took place at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, which Widodo supervises with support from the International Rhino Foundation. However, his celebration regarding this historic birth is tempered by the continued threats that face Indonesia’s remaining rhinos, which means that Widodo Ramono’s job is not yet done.

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