FMKH Members in Action

Eight years ago we acknowledged the immense importance of including the communities living in the immediate vicinity of the key forests into our strategic conservation plan by initiating the Forest Conservation Community Forums (Forum Masyarakat Konservasi Hutan: FMKH) in five villages surrounding the Tangkoko forest. Giving them a voice awoke their sense of pride, empowerment and care and they have been contributing to the management of protected areas near their homes ever since.

As Covid-19 cases decreased and regulations loosened, we decided to organize a cross-forums gathering last November to invite the FMKH members from all the villages to meet with a variety of important stakeholders; namely Natural Resources Conservation Agency of North Sulawesi, Tourism Department, local government representatives, Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center, Macaca Nigra Project and members of the Conservation School Programme. We hosted the event in the open area of the beach in Kasawari village adjacent to Tangkoko. The sunny weather was in our favour and we counted 130 smiling and motivated participants!

Alongside our partner Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue and Education Center, we were happy to receive a donation from a local sponsor. PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PT PLN) is an Indonesian government-owned corporation, who through their Community Service Responsible program are willing to join the efforts in wildlife protection. Highlighting the wildlife trade mitigation strategy, the donation will help us to maximize our role in the task force for the protection and preservation of wild plants and animals.

Bitung City has an area of over 300km2 of which more than half is forest. The Tangkoko Nature Reserve is a forest area home to several endemic animals of North Sulawesi. In addition, as one of the strategic port cities in eastern Indonesia, Bitung has the potential to become an illegal wildlife trade route. This includes both international trade routes to the Philippines, as well as wildlife trade routes originating from eastern to western Indonesia.

Involving the FMKH members, we are setting up several education stands in local markets across Bitung, distributing education materials and empowering local community members to be inspired by the conservation forums, to collectively reach our goal of preventing the illegal wildlife trade and helping us to protect the Yaki and the forest.

Camera Trap Survey

Following the initial biodiversity monitoring surveys we conducted in 2018, we are now repeating the camera trapping efforts across the Yaki’s native range in North Sulawesi starting in May 2022. Supporting BKSDA Sulawesi Utara and Bogani Nani Wartabone, this survey will serve as an important repeat comparative to assess the status of the population and its threats. The surveys allow us to track the population and its threats over the time, meaning we can monitor own progress towards our mission of saving the Yaki!

We previously deployed 53 cameras strategically across the province within three months, with two teams composed of university forestry students, rangers, and local community members. This year we are deploying a further 63 camera traps with extra support of cameras from our partners Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park and Macaca Nigra Project. This survey will be finished in November 2022 and we look forward to writing up the results and seeing how the population are doing compared to previous years.

Yaki Ambassadors in Action

With the letter of support from the head of the Education Department of the Minahasa regency, the new Yaki ambassadors visited 23 junior high schools with a total reach of 2566 students and 119 teachers within three weeks soon afterwards. Still in the middle of pandemic, they did an excellent job delivering the talks and were creative in adapting to the situation and keeping the students engaged, which was more challenging as some schools had no electricity to have the power point presentation on, therefore most of the talks happened in the school yard. We are proud of the fantastic work of the new ambassadors and excited about how they can keep up their involvement with positively influencing their communities.

Finally, the ambassadors were invited to join an immersive trip to the forest of Tangkoko Nature Reserve to observe the macaques and the rich biodiversity first-hand. Not one of the new 27 ambassadors have ever been to the forest or experienced a wildlife tour before, which made them very excited about it.

Avoiding mass tourism and following the code of conduct in the park, we teamed up into small groups of three ambassadors and one SY staff, led by one local guide and entered the forest in the morning. The weather was pleasant, and it only took around 1.5 hours of walking in the lush forest until we discovered a group of macaques! Many beautiful endemic birds were also spotted, and they were lucky to see the bear cuscus and even the nocturnal tarsiers. They were amazed by the whole experience and went home with excitement for the next Yaki ambassador adventures!

Yaki Photo Exhibition in Minahasa

To reach a wider audience with our Yaki conservation messages, we installed seven permanent roadside billboards at strategic places across Minahasa, displaying Yaki photos and important conservation messages. Four billboards were placed at busy roads in Kakas Barat, Lembean Timur, Tondano Utara, and Tondano Selatan covering the central to southern part of Minahasa regency. Three other billboards were installed in the west part of the regency, namely Mandolang, Pineleng and Sonder. One billboard, featuring a photo of the Head of the regency together with his message about how important it is to join the Yaki conservation efforts, was placed in Tondano, the capital of the regency.

After the involvement at the Yaki Youth Camp, the new ambassadors started to take the lead in coordinating and implementing the outreach activities such as education stands in the markets and distributing education materials in public places.

A Yaki themed photo exhibition was held in the center of Minahasa regency. Featuring Yaki photos from the wild taken by wildlife photographer Andrew Walmsley and our programme director Harry Hilser, as well as Yaki drawings and paintings from various artists, the exhibition was on display throughout March 2022.

The nine-days long exhibition involved coordination between the SY staff, the ambassadors and the volunteers, who were shifting hours staying in the area, ready to explain more about the Yaki and our conservation efforts. On the fifth day of the exhibition, a visit from the Head of the Environmental Services Department attracted the journalists. He considered the exhibition very creative, in the midst of a difficult pandemic.

As part of the post campaign phase, we organized a socio-demographic survey to measure the impact of the Yaki Pride Campaign. Data were collected from a total of 400 respondents in ten villages of Minahasa regency.

A simple analysis compared with the post-survey shows an increase in the number of people who have heard information about the Yaki and are aware of its presence in the area. The number of people who are consuming or trading the Yaki has also decreased compared with before the campaign and with previous years.

Meanwhile, measuring the level of awareness, some more encouraging results were obtained. The Minahasan people showed great support; 66% answered that they think hunting Yaki needs to be stopped and 34% answered that wildlife trade also needs to be stopped.

Sustainable Livelihood Approach

Last year, the SLA strategies continued strengthening the communities’ involvement in and commitment to protection of the forests. It was especially targeted on local farmer groups by up-scaling the benefits of the livelihoods with the use of organic permaculture techniques and hydroponics developed up to the larger production scale. With the support from Boras Conservation Fund in Sweden since 2019, we were able to expand the projects by up-scaling the greenhouse in Toruakat village, Bolaang Mongondow and a new permaculture site in Pinangunian, Bitung.

It is expected that by developing a broader model for community-based conservation, the livelihood approaches will be further integrated into a wide vision to reduce the threats to the local ecosystem while benefiting local communities.

Several households were involved working together to manage the permaculture gardens at Pinangunian village for the past year. Training on how to farm with organic methods through permaculture was delivered to ten families. It was similar in Toruakat village, ten families had been trained and worked together at the hydroponic greenhouse while three households actively maintained the greenhouse.

We hope to support the future development of the permaculture garden in Pinangunian to engage more people and inspire others to consider farming organically. We wish to link them to the suitable stakeholders for them to be able to bring their products to the local market with a sustainable system and get involved in the plan of the local government.

Organic farming using permaculture techniques in Pinangunian, Bitung
Harvest at Hydroponic greenhouse in Toruakat, Bolaang Mongondow

New Yaki Ambassadors from Minahasa

Held in Pa’Dior arts and culture museum in Minahasa in December, 27 students from 19 schools joined the camp. We aimed to get one student from each of the 41 schools we visited, though unfortunately some students could not join for various personal reasons (no permission from the parents due to the current pandemic, other obligations or poor responsiveness due to lack of signal/phone).

The three days and two nights at the camp were packed with exciting and inspiring activities! On the first day, the participants had introduction sessions through various ice-breaker/bonding games, as well as becoming more deeply acquainted with the work of the Selamatkan Yaki Programme. The second day started with an early Zumba session to get the kids lively and ready for the day. Next is the presentation from our partner the Macaca Nigra Project about the ecology, behaviour and social life of Yaki in the wild leaving the kids amazed and very intrigued. Right after, to trigger their empathy and increase their awareness, Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center shared a talk about the wildlife trade and zoonosis.

The next half of the day was more about maximizing their role as a Yaki ambassador. We invited a local social media influencer to talk about how to use social media for conservation; how to influence people and the importance of ethics. They also learned about simple phone photography and videography techniques to be able to maximize their role in spreading conservation messages through social media. To get even more inspired in their new role, we invited the previous ambassadors to come and talk about their experience in the role of Yaki ambassador.

10 years Conservation Activities

2021 marked a decade of Selamatkan Yaki conservation activities on the ground! Together with our wonderful partners and supporters, we organised a fun celebration at Casa Bakudapa venue in Manado in December 2021.

Over these past ten years a huge number of goals towards the protection of Yaki and their forest homes have been achieved. None of them would have been possible without the support of our partners and sponsors. Selamatkan Yaki is all about working together – cooperation and collaboration are key to progress and facilitating partnerships has always been one of our core strengths.

Despite the sudden heavy rain in the middle of the speeches, we were happy to hold a space for the sharing of nice words from our partners, while some quality stand-up comedy tickled everyone. With delicious food, live music and great company we reminisced on all of our amazing collective achievements.

Patrolling Duasudara Nature Reserve

Funded by the Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) Rapid Action Fund, Selamatkan Yaki and Macaca Nigra Project joined forces to support the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of North Sulawesi (BKSDA), forming two teams of six people to patrol the Tangkoko Nature Reserve to monitor levels of illegal activities, immobilize traps and to protect the area from hunters. The teams consisted of members from all three partners along with community members.

The teams carried out 24 patrols in total throughout different parts of the reserve, as well across a variety of routes. While anthropogenic threats still persist, they were happy to discover that the logging has decreased compared to previous years and that the traps set out are mainly directed at rats, rather than Yaki, cuscus bears or wild pigs (which are non-selective and can harm Yaki also). There is still a problem with encroachment into the protected forest by local communities and we hope to work together with BKSDA to address and minimize this issue promptly.

Aside from data collection and essential deterrence of disturbance, these patrols once again connected organizations working towards the same cause; they united NGOs and government and brought motivation and the spirit of optimism to people on the ground.

School Talks in Minahasa 2021

“We Protect the Yaki Because We Care!”, the Yaki conservation message that we have been using since 2013 is now reaching the Minahasa regency – the latest Yaki Pride Campaign area with the continued support from the Mandai Nature in Singapore.

After delays with the pandemic restrictions, we managed to deliver talks at senior high schools in the area. Not only reaching out to students with our key messages (Yaki are endemic, critically endangered, play an important role for the forest and are protected), but we were also on a mission to empower representatives from each school to attend the conservation themed Yaki Youth Camp where they will become Yaki ambassadors.

We reached 41 schools with a total of 1759 students and 16 teachers and 6 principals during the socialization. We were not able to reach all students in each school, but were lucky enough to be able to achieve what we did due to limited face-to-face studying activities where some schools were still doing online studying.

Best of all is that we also teamed up with the Yaki ambassadors from the previous years, with the wonderful Nadya, Iman, Christy and Ivan delivering the talks with us. Such inspiring voices and direct action for protecting North Sulawesi’s unique wildlife!

Commitmen from Langowan Market Seller

Part of our Wildlife Trade Mitigation Strategy, a major goal of reaching out to local markets is to engage with local sellers in ten markets to build upon our previous positive lessons and social diffusion approaches to influence a crucial target group of sellers across North Sulawesi, to stop selling protected species, in particular the Yaki. From the bushmeat market surveys that have been done by Selamatkan Yaki, we have indicated 10 priority markets to be engaged.

After several careful meetings with traders in their stalls, an agreement was reached – the pledge to support the efforts to turn the Tomohon’s market into a green market by not selling endangered and protected species. They agreed to help abandon the existing stigma of referring to the traditional market as “extreme market” and foster new perceptions and feelings of pride through their involvement in the campaign: “Bekeng Sulut Bangga; Bangga nyanda bajual deng konsumsi satwa liar terancam dan dilindungi” (Make North Sulawesi Proud; Proud not to sell and eat the meat of endangered and protected wildlife).

Aiming to duplicate the success in the Tomohon market, similar approaches were adopted in Langowan market in Minahasa. The first meeting is always the hardest and it was particularly difficult at Langowan market, since it happened that several traders were sentenced to jail for selling protected wildlife in the past. It was, therefore, harder to start an open conversation about protecting the wildlife. The team had to carefully design the approach by initiating a concept of “Traders, Friends of Nature” to invite them into socialization.

After changes of strategies and the second wave of pandemic restrictions, we were delighted that finally in October, fifteen traders signed the declaration “Traders in Langowan Market are proud for not selling protected and endangered species”.

Market sellers from Tomohon and Langowan markets, have committed themselves, to join the efforts in tackling illegal wildlife trade, by signing an official and public declaration. These declarations from key markets mark a turning point on tackling illegal trade of wildlife in the area and should be very influential for other important areas where we continue these approaches, focused on working closely with communities to foster collective demand for change.