Rudi Putra was studying Conservation Biology when he fell in love with the smallest of all rhinos: the Sumatran rhino. That is when he decided to dedicate his life to the Leuser Ecosystem (Sumatra, Indonesia). This is one of the world’s richest yet least-known rainforest systems and is home to the Sumatran rhino, elephant, tiger and orangutan.
Poaching and massive (illegal) deforestation are the main reasons why the Sumatran rhino is critically endangered. Only about 80 of the species are left in the Leuser Ecosystem. By dismantling illegal palm oil plantations and creating new anti-poaching patrols, Rudi is taking steps in rebuilding the Sumatran rhino population.
Rudi Putra first became fascinated with nature and wildlife as a child, growing up on the northern tip of the Indonesian Island Sumatra. During his study in Conservation Biology, he fell in love with the Sumatran rhino – the smallest of all rhinos – and decided to dedicate his life to the Leuser Ecosystem and the forests of Aceh. He began with anti-poaching work in 1990, with amazing results. By 2000, the range of the rhinos had increased to about 50% of the area. Since then, Rudi made sure that the anti-poaching patrols never ceased.
Vision and Approach
The Leuser Ecosystem is one of the world’s richest yet least-known rainforest systems and is home to the Sumatran rhino. Poaching and massive (illegal) deforestation are the main reasons why the rhino are currently critically endangered. Only about 80 of the species are left in the Leuser Ecosystem. By dismantling illegal palm oil plantations and creating new anti-poaching patrols, Rudi is not only protecting the current population of rhinos, but he is also taking steps to rebuild the Sumatran rhino population over the entire Leuser Ecosystem. Rudi was the first to form a coalition of NGOs, local village chiefs, local parliamentarians and government officials.
“The long-term effort to protect rhinos in the Leuser Ecosystem has increased the rhino population from around 50 individuals in 1990 to around 80 today. I sincerely hope that the work I am engaged in will result in a steadily increasing population of one of the world’s rarest species, eventually to as many as 2,000 individuals.”Rudi Putra
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- The Future For Nature Award Award inspired the local people and the government, showing that the Leuser Ecosystem is of great importance.
"Rudi’s anti-poaching success over the last 12 years, and determination to reclaim Leuser’s protected areas from illegal oil palm plantations, show true grit, courage and tenacity. Trying to establish exactly how many rhino still exist within the Leuser ecosystem makes sense, as does convening experts to figure out the best conservation strategies. His great passion and commitment to these highly endangered creatures is an inspiration."Ms. Saba Douglas-Hamilton, International Selection Committee