Written by Hanif Muhammad – IRF Indonesia Liaison
His name is Sujiono. He has been working in Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) since 2005, longer than anyone else at the SRS. He lives near the border of the National Park and before coming to the SRS, worked at a banana farm just outside the Park.
Every morning, Sujiono wakes up very early. By 7:30 a.m., he is walking deep into the forest where he collects browse for the rhinos living at the SRS until around 11:30 a.m.. Then, he brings what he has collected back and has a quick lunch with the other SRS staff in the cafeteria. He finishes collecting food for the rhinos at 1:00 p.m. Occasionally, the rhino keepers request extra browse. When this happens, Sujiono will spend a couple additional hours gathering rhino food plants in the afternoon.
While gathering browse, Sujiono can choose from up to 15 varieties of preferred food plants for the rhinos. Exactly what he gathers varies day by day. He tries to rotate what he brings back to the rhinos so they always have some variety. Collecting browse is especially difficult after a heavy rain – the rainforest gets very slippery when it is wet!
Like everyone at the SRS, Sujiono was very excited when Ratu finally gave birth to her second calf this May. “I am very proud about Ratu’s second birth. Our work is not glamorous, but important,” said Sujiono, the father of two children, when I asked him about how he felt about the birth. His family is also proud of him because they know their father is doing critical work to support the incredibly rare Sumatran rhinos.