John Payne

John Payne, also known as Junaidi Payne, is a biologist and permanent resident of Sabah, Malaysia. His PhD degree from Cambridge University was awarded for research done in Krau Wildlife Reserve in Peninsular Malaysia in the mid-1970s. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of Kinabalu by the Governor of Sabah in 2010. He led WWF work in Sabah from 1982 to 1998, spending much of the early years seeking Hairy rhinos, and advocating for captive breeding as well as establishment of Tabin Wildlife Reserve. As the various institutions concerned with this species fragmented globally from 1986 onwards, he moved to other subjects including orangutans, conservation strategy, new protected areas and forest ecology. From 2008, he regained interest in the Hairy rhino, managing a non-governmental organization, Borneo Rhino Alliance, thereafter. The aim was to create a managed international metapopulation, employing the latest advances in reproductive technology to allow every remaining Hairy rhino to contribute its genes to species recovery. After the last two Hairy rhinos in Malaysia died in 2019, he led the re-branding of the Alliance as ‘bringing back our rare animals’, an avenue to address lessons learned from the extinction of the Hairy rhino in Malaysia.