Special Reporting Project: Sumatran Rhinos

Sumatran rhinos are among the rarest and most endangered animals on earth. The species’ wild population numbers no more than 80, fragmented into small sub-populations in Sumatra and Borneo. Another nine live in captivity in Indonesia and Malaysia, where researchers hope they can contribute to the long-term survival of their species.

Sumatran rhinos are on the brink of extinction, but are also the subject of increasingly intensive efforts to reverse their decline. In September 2018, a coalition of international conservation organizations announced the official launch of Sumatran Rhino Rescue, an effort to support the Indonesian government’s captive breeding program. Since then, a rhino has been successfully captured, the network of rhino sanctuaries in Indonesia is expanding, and efforts to better survey and protect surviving wild populations are underway.

At this critical juncture, Mongabay is launching a special reporting initiative aimed at raising awareness about the Sumatran rhino and chronicling successes and setbacks in local and international efforts to save the species from extinction.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: threats facing the Sumatran rhinos; news and analysis relating to conservation efforts; new research about the species; the impact of local, regional and institutional politics on Sumatran rhino conservation; interviews with officials, experts and community members connected to rhino conservation efforts; and historical and cultural perspectives on the Sumatran rhino.

In addition to print stories, we are seeking fully produced short documentaries (3+ minutes) as well as video clips Mongabay can edit in-house for use on social media. Videos should include interviews with experts and/or local people involved in or affected by conservation efforts, as well as contextual footage such as images of wildlife, scenery, and conservationists at work.

Completed print stories will be published in English on Mongabay.com under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing and re-posting. They could also potentially be translated into other languages and published by Mongabay.

Authors of print stories will be expected to provide 5-10 publishable photos (either original, provided by those interviewed, or found free of copyright restrictions online) to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits.

Mongabay will negotiate fees and contracts for video and print submissions on a per-story basis, depending on the journalist’s experience and the complexity of the reporting. Funds are available to defray local/regional travel costs.

Please submit your pitch here along with your journalism resume and three clips. Pitches should be roughly 500 words in length. They should clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about and how it is significant to the future of the species. Please also explain your approach to covering it and describe a few potential sources. For stories involving travel,  please include a preliminary budget estimate (using this template) if travel expenses will be required to carry out reporting. Do not include payments for your work in this budget estimate.  

Proposals for video stories should also include a shot list, a list of expected interviews and links to samples of previous video work.

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.

Pitches will be considered on a rolling basis through the end of July 2021, or when our budget is disbursed. Stories must be published by the end of August 2021.