Saturday, March 24, 2012

Death of the Javan Rhino

A long time ago, when I first came to Indonesia, I discovered an amazing drink. What initially drew me to this drink was not the flavour or a recommendation but the fact that the can had a picture of a rhinoceros on it. The inner child in me could not resist buying a rhino drink, not to mention the cryptic Arabic writing on it. It turned out to be a pretty tasty drink, like gatorade but less sweet. Also, it came in a variety of flavours such as orange, apple, strawberry, guava and lychee.

What started out as a novelty soon turned into a staple as you could often find what I like to refer to as rhinoceros juice in my fridge. When Indonesian friends would see me drinking this, they would ask me if I was feeling OK. Turns out that my "rhino juice" is really a type of jamu, which is a type of Javanese herbal medicine. I would reply that I just liked the taste and the fact that there was a rhino on the can.

This led me to do some translating/investigating. I mean, why did it actually have a rhino on there? Would its herbal properties give one the strength of a rhino? Or perhaps impenetrable skin that would metaphorically maintain one's health? As it turns out the real name for rhino juice is LARUTAN PENYEGAR CAP KAKI TIGA. This roughly translates to refreshing solution that stamps with three legs. A what???

The part that really wow'ed me was the 3 legs part. I suppose this means that you have some kind of extra leg/foot which gives you extra strength. Further investigation revealed that "larutan" (as it is called by the locals) is said (on the can) to "refresh the body, treat heartburn, fever, colds, canker sores, sore throat and constipation." I later found out that cap kaki tiga (stamp three legs) is a brand name (like Nokia or Kraft) and doesn't actually mean anything.

So, it is a medicine of sorts for whatever ails you. This is why everyone was always asking me if I
was OK. Further questioning as to why there was a rhino on the can seemed pointless. Indonesians I asked simply said they didn't know or that they have often wondered the same thing. Questions about the Arabic writing on the can provided similar answers. I decided that there was no point in asking why and that I should just get on with my life and continue to enjoy my "rhinoceros juice".

Years later, last week to be exact, I started to notice a design change on my beloved rhino juice. The rhino was being phased out with a new can design. This new design completely got rid of the rhinoceros and replaced it with the kaki tiga (three legs) logo.
Seeing this broke my heart a little. My old rhino friend would no longer be part of my life. I have grown to trust and depend on him over the years. The strangest thing about this is that the original design with the rhino has him standing on what appears to be a rock or mud and there is the ocean in the background. The kaki tiga logo still has the ocean in the background and it just looks weird. Sure, the contents of the can would still be the same, but it is as if coca cola put a picture of Hitler on the can. I needed to find out more.

After some intensive research and with the help of google translate, I finally found out the answer. Or so I thought. I found a story about a Sumatran factory that produced soft drinks and ice. They put a rhino on their packaging since there were so many rhinos in the area. Further reading led me to conclude that this is a completely different company since their products are only available in the North Sumatra province. I have since given up and decided to not let my dear friend leave me so suddenly. I am childishly searching around town for every can I can find that still has the Rhino on it so that we can stay friends for a little while longer. Eventually I will have to say goodbye to my dear friend, a day which I do not look forward to.

Here is their website...


  1. I saw some at Indomart by our house last night! -Matt

  2. what an animal lover you are !! :D ROFLOL oh by the way poor rhino.. :-(

  3. That drink is the bomb, wish I could find that around here in the USA. Also, I like how some of the kaki tiga cans have pictures of a handgun inside a circle, as if it's another logo. I cut it out and put it on a collage poster, ironically celebrating the absurd handgun logo.

  4. I remember a moment when my friend from America came to Indonesia, he bought a tin of "larutan penyegar cap kaki tiga" and asked "this is concentrate of rhinoceros milk ?