Asian rhinoceroses are amongst the world’s rarest and most threatened animals. Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus), which once spread as far as Bangladesh, are now known to exist in just one park in Indonesia, with an estimated population of 63 individuals as of early 2016. Wild populations of Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), which once roamed in the foothills of the Himalayas and throughout mainland Southeast Asia, are now known to survive in just four sites in Indonesia, with a combined population of around 76 individuals as of 2015.


The greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) is faring better with a population of more than 3,500 and rising in India and Nepal, but is still considered vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN.

Asian rhinos face common threats of poaching for their horns and loss of habitat due to agricultural incursions and human settlement, but each population has unique prospects and challenges in part determined by political will to protect them.

Mongabay is seeking story pitches for a multi-year project on Asian rhinoceroses, including the Sumatran, Javan, and Indian one-horned rhino. Proposals for both news updates and in-depth features will be considered.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • The current and historical status of rhinos in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, India and Vietnam
  • Threats facing rhino populations, including habitat loss due to oil palm plantations and other incursions, the illicit trade in rhino horns and socio-political conflicts
  • The status, successes and failures of conservation efforts—what’s working and what isn’t
  • Why some Asian countries, such as Nepal, have been relatively successful at protecting rhinos, and whether they can serve as models for others
  • Lessons Asia can learn from African countries’ experiences fighting poaching (and vice versa)
  • The prospect of increasingly militarized poaching and anti-poaching operations
  • The role national and local governments play in supporting and hindering conservation efforts
  • Progress and setbacks in legislation aimed at protecting rhinos
  • Efforts to engage local communities in conservation programs
  • The merits of and drawbacks of captive breeding programs
  • Efforts to reintroduce rhinos into conservation areas in India
  • New research methods and technologies that could aid conservation efforts
  • Plans to relocate Javan rhinos


Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Completed stories will be paid per word, depending on the journalist’s experience and the complexity of the reporting, and will be published on under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing and re-posting. We will also offer a small payment to journalists who proactively get their stories republished in major third-party print media outlets and on sites that draw more than 100,000 unique visitors per month. Small sums are available to help defray travel costs.

All applications must be submitted in English, and all final reporting will be published first in English. However, Indonesian-language journalists are encouraged to pitch stories in Bahasa Indonesia to Rahmadi Rahmad, one of our Indonesian editors.

Please submit your Asian rhinos pitch here, along with your journalism resume. Pitches should be roughly 500 words in length. They should clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about and your approach to covering it, describe a few potential sources, and include whether travel funding is necessary to complete the project (travel funds are very limited). As this is an ongoing pitch solicitation, there is no deadline for submissions.


Other reporting opportunities: