INDRAMAYU, KOMPAS.com - In a small Indonesian fishing village, a man with a fake rhino head perched atop his own puts on a puppet show for a group of eager children.
Former teacher Samsudin is educating the kids about the plight of the critically endangered Javan rhino - the world’s rarest - using cardboard figures, comical expressions, and exaggerated voices to spread his message of conservation one story at a time.
The 50-year-old asks the children in the West Javan village of Indramayu to mimic the animals and teaches them the importance of guarding the forest and the wildlife unique to it.
"I want them to know rhinos need pristine forest and that human beings are not the only creatures on earth," he told AFP.
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"I want children to love nature and grow up into people who are aware and care about our natural resources."
Javan rhinos - one-horned mammals that can weigh up to two tonnes and have folds of loose skin that resemble armor plating - once numbered in the thousands across Southeast Asia.
But they are now barely clinging to existence, having been hit hard by rampant poaching and human encroachment on their habitats.
After years of population decline, there are believed to be just 75 of the mammals left at the Ujung Kulon sanctuary - their last remaining wild habitat - on the westernmost tip of Java island.
'Before it's too late'