Yaki masks at Festival Gunung Poopo, South Minahasa

We were participating at Mount Payung Festival in Poopo, South Minahasa 21-22 February 2020. The festival was initiated by Wolay Cultural Art Community in Poopo aims to promote Daseng Gunung Payung Poopo as a natural and cultural tourism destination in North Sulawesi. This activity succeeds inviting lots of tourists and nature lovers. With a height of about 500Mdpl, it is well known for its view above the cloud. Beautiful view that can be enjoyed in the morning around 5 at 9 am.

View from Gunung Payung

Putting up our education tent is one of our ways to spread conservation messages to local people, tourists and nature lovers in the festival. Proven by the enthusiasm people who came to the tent, red the information on display about wildlife in North Sulawesi and the protected by law. Children were also look very excited about their Yaki masks. Once colored, they immediately put it on their face by shouting “Molay.. Molay..!” Molay is the name of our Yaki mascot!

In the afternoon, although the rain had been poured the whole village, the Mawolay Parade kept going. Big and creepy masks seemed to walk into the village. The arrival was greeted with children’s shouts. Some were afraid, some were mezmerized. Mawolay is a creepy mask that in ancient times was usually placed in a field or rice field aimed to scare wildlife including the yaki that at the time, still considered as pests by local people. It looks like if you look at this mask, not just the animal that will run in fear, human would seem to be frightened! The mask is made from Enau (Arenga piñata) or in the local language, Seho leaves. Usually, this mask will be pared around the fields and the paddy fields, while them singing “wolay rede…” then hung the mask above the tree around.  The tradition that has been rooted and cultured in the people of Poopoh, South Minahasa is one of the evidences that the conflicts of humans and animals can be solved without having to hurt the animals. Even though the mask is no longer used to expel pests, it remains preserved as a cultural heritage. Usually each “kuncikan” or the last Sunday in January each year, it has become a tradition of closing the New Year celebration, this mask is again displayed in the parade.
After finished with the Mawolay Parade, as well as our outreach activity with the education tent, our team took a little break and had dinner at home “Hukum Tua”(name for the head in the Minahasan village). Right at 8pm the team joined the groups of “hikers” including tourists, nature lovers and local communities started the climb to the Daseng Mount Payung. The climb begins with prayer together at the starting point. Although the mountain is not very high, but the climb cannot be “seen with one eye closed” and idiom to say underestimate. To save time, we decided to use the car to the end of the forest, then began to climb. The 30 to 44-degree slope line was quite energy consuming. We arrived at the top right at midnight, and with a small remaining energy, we set up our tents, hung the hammocks then rest immediately. The peak of Daseng Mount Payung that night was very crowded, we hardly have a place to set up the tent. Seeing the enthusiastic spirit of the everyone there that night, it can be said this festival is a massive success. 

The sun was still hiding behind the clouds when everyone woke up, stood up and waited for the sunrise and the sea of clouds. And at 5am, the sky appears burning red. The sun was slowly coming out and truly show a magnificent view. So true… it really felt like being in somewhere over the clouds. The white clouds rolled up, the reddish sky and the peak of Mount Soputan can be seen in distant. What a beautiful morning that cannot be experienced anywhere in the city. Satisfied with lots of selfie with the magnificent background of Sunrise, sea of clouds, and the mountain of Soputan, our Programme Director Harry Hilser was given the opportunity to delivered few messages for everyone. Harry expressed her gratitude for the beauty of Mount Payung that hopefully can be aligned with the sustainability of the environment. And afterwards, a joint declaration was held where everyone who was there that morning committed to take care of the nature around Mount Payung also to no longer consume protected wildlife bushmeat, including yaki.

After came back from Mount Payung, Harry together with Alberto Salinas our Programme Coordinator were participated as speakers in “Tourism Development of Daseng Gunung Payung Poopo” seminar. Harry spoke about ecotourism and provided few inputs for the tourism development of Mount Poopo. Three ecotourism components such as the importance of nature conservation, local community empowerment, and increasing environmental awareness. It is not only addressed to the tourists but also the local community. In addition, inputs such as providing educational facilities on the mountaintop about conservation were well received by local communities and governments. On that occasion, the community had a chance to have a dialogue with speakers. The participants in this seminar also came from the provincial tourism office, the academics of Sam Ratulangi University, Polda Sulut, and the tourism community.

Talk about tourism development Daseng Gunung Poopo

A great thank you for Bill Werung – Wolay Cultural Art Community in Poopo for the great initiative to made this festival and to get us involved. And of course, to our amazing youth Yaki Ambassadors Iin, Nadia and Karmel, as well to our great supporters Rizal and Vidi who voluntary help us in many events. Everyone played an important role to support the team especially the time given. See you all to the next festival!

Donation from PERWOSI SULUT Family Run 2019

The Megamas Area in Manado, North Sulawesi was crowded by groups of families wearing white shirts on Saturday morning, November 2nd, 2019. They were ready to follow a running competition held by the Union of Woman Sports Indonesia (Perwosi) led by Ir.Ny Tri Suswati Tito Karnavian, while North Sulawesi is led by Mrs. Amelia Tungka. It was called the Saturday Family Run!

Opened by the governor of North Sulawesi, Mr Olly Dondokambey, the route was running around the Megamas area which was around xx km. Not only from Manado, there were also participants from the youth runners from other areas such as Likupang and South Minahasa. The purpose of this event was to increase the interest of exercising together as a family.
The organizers made this event packed with exhibitions from different organizations and stalls. We were one of the exhibitors, where we displayed our education tent, and feeling a privilege to take part. This event gave such an extraordinary impression, as both children and adults were enthusiastic to come closer to us and of course to take photographs with our mascot Molay while the youth yaki ambassador used this chance to spread yaki conservation messages, especially the important role of the Yaki in human’s lives.

After an early morning run and Zumba, we were given the opportunity to be present on the main stage to receive donations from the Megamas management in supporting nature preservation in North Sulawesi through Yaki conservation activities. Thank you Megamas! There were also other foundations who got these special funds such as Estella Foundation (Children of Cancer) and orphanages in Tondano, Minahasa. The event was made more festive because there were many door prizes that make visitors feel attracted to stay longer in the location.

At the end of the morning activity, in front of the invitees such as Mrs. Kapolda (Police Chief) of North Sulawesi, and another important invitation, we were given the opportunity to deliver a presentation about the importance of yaki conservation as well as our activities. The loudspeakers were amazingly loud, where we think the entire area could actually listen to this talk and so the coverage was definitely widespread.

At the end, we had to stay a bit longer as the event was held till early afternoon. Our education team together with the youth ambassadors were doing a remarkable job. There were Karmel, Iin and Agum from South Minahasa, and Damian from Bitung. Well done everyone!

Molay at Lembeh Strait Festival 2019

This time, me Riri Lawe the Education Officer for Selamatkan Yaki would like to share about our participation at the Lembeh Strait Festival 2019 (FPSL). This Festival is an annual activity of the city government of Bitung to promote tourism of Bitung and usually lasts for one week in the month of October. This time it was on 5th – 10th October 2019.

We set up our education tent in the community area, where there were many different communities from the city of Bitung; not only in the field of conservation but also in arts and culture. As usual, we were doing outreach activities during the festival, in addition to providing information on the stand, we also handed out stickers and of course our beloved mascot “Molay” was there to entertain! Being in between many other community tents in such a large exhibition area, it is quite difficult to attract visitors especially as this is not the first time we were involved in this festival. However, our educational tent is different from others; very eye catching with the Yaki logo design and dominated by green color, makes us easy to be found. 

Thousands of people came to visit the festival from morning to night, and hundreds stopped by at our stand. Our team was sometimes overwhelmed to talk to everyone. Fortunately, we were assisted by our Yaki ambassadors, as well as some students from UNSRAT who joined the Relung Konservasi Wallacea – a student network initiated by us. Although it was not the first time for us to brought our educational tent at this festival, we still met people who first heard about the yaki that is endemic, Critically Endangered and protected by Indonesian law. The team did a great job on the outreach this time!

On the last day of the festival, a little relieved it was slightly cloudy weather as the humidity during the day can suck up lots of energy. As we were on the way to the location, suddenly we got a voice call from the organizers. Our tent collapsed because of the wind! A little worried and panicked as this is the second time our educational tent was broken in the same event, right at the same location as well. Apparently, not only our tent but some other big tents were flew by a sudden wind because the location of the exhibition is right on the seafront. A great lesson for the team not to let the tent stay plugged all night. Not going to be upset too long with what has already happened, we immediately thought of another alternative so that we could still do the outreach to visitors at the peak of the closing of FPSL 2019. We turn the tent provided by the committee to become our educational tent complete with all information from bits and pieces from our original tent. Thanks to the committee, for the great cooperation!

As we had to move, the next location is a bit far from the visitor’s entrance so we had to figure out how to make our outreach activities maximum. An idea to walk toward visitors by handing out the sticker crossed my mind. Waited a bit for the sun to set, I finally decided to wear our beloved mascot “Molay”! Molay really helped us to catch the eyes of visitors. I was excited to spread the message of conservation by seeing the enthusiastic people who wanted to get close, take selfies and received a message about the yaki. Something funny, while inside the mascot I keep smiling, even laughed every time people asked me for photos. I often forgot if my face turns out to be covered with Molay face.

All the effort we did that day was not wasted although it started with collapsed tents that made the atmosphere a bit down. There were so many visitors who come to our tent as well as smiling children who took photographs with Molay then received information about this special monkey and other wildlife. I want to thank all the parties who have helped us, the Government of Bitung for the amazing collaboration and support as well as all the visitors to the festival!

Cakalang Dance, Awards at HKAN 2019 and Visit to Singapore Zoo

Commemoration of Indonesian Natural Conservation Day 2019 was held on 5-8 August 2019 at TWA Muka Kuning in Batam in the province of Riau Islands. The celebrations included talk shows, group workshops, mountaineering tours, and book review. The peak of the event was held on 7th August 2019 which was filled with various activities such as eagle releases, conservation awards, declarations, and the show of millennial cultural arts from the region. Director of Environmental Services Utilization of Conservation Forest (PJLHK) Asep Sugiharta, as the chairman of the Committee reported that this activity was attended by 400 participants from all over Indonesia, derived from the Scout of the work force (Saka) Wanabakti, conservation activists, and UPT Ditjen KSDAE. I, Junita Siwi, Representing Selamatkan Yaki as Community Conservation Officer and Chair of the Foundation flew to Batam in support for our beloved Yaki Ambassador Ibu Khouni Lomban Rawung with Sekolah Lingkungan Bitung City and BKSDA North Sulawesi.

The sun was shining bright as the event was opened by the Director General of KSDAE KLHK, Ir. Wiratno, M.Sc accompanied by the Ms. Indra Exploitasia the Director of Biodiversity Conservation. After that, the guests were invited to visit the booths exhibit by all the BKSDA across Indonesia as well as the partners, and the pro-environment communities. Each exhibition stand showcases the biodiversity potentials of each region and the conservation activities with partners. To attract more visitors, different types of traditional foods were served at some booths. Trying to compete, BKSDA North Sulawesi was overwhelmed visitors as they brought over the famous fried Goroho banana which became the hot item on the list. In addition, the Selamatkan Yaki mascot wandered around the booths posing for selfies with the visitors.

The peak of the event fell on August 7, 2019. The event was attended by Indonesian First Lady Mrs. Irina Jokowi, who arrived a bit late but did not affect the enthusiasm of the participant. This event is very memorable to me personally because me and Gwenny Kojoh – the representative of North Sulawesi Conservation Cadre, we had the opportunity to perform a dance in front of the participants. It was extraordinary and such a mixed feeling that I agreed to perform in front of a large audience where the minister and the First Lady were there. It was seriously the first time in my life to perform in the national level event. Such a relief that I lost a bit of nervous feeling that we didn’t have to wait until the First Lady to arrive as she was a bit late and the event had to keep going… phew! We were performing traditional dance from the city of Bitung called Cakalang Dance. It went smoothly and after we were asked about the story of the dance. Cakalang is a type of Tuna that has become one prior commodity of Bitung, so the story is about a fisherman and the Cakalang fish. We were also asked to introduce ourselves, and the audience were surprised to find out that dancer is not our professions. I took that as a compliment!

The First Lady and the wife of former vice President Yusuf Kalla finally arrived just at the perfect timing to witness the three eagles release, accompanied by the Minister of Environment and Forestry in Indonesian Mrs. Sitti Nurbaya. Another main event of where I was really excited about was awards to the organizations, local governments and conservation activists received by 10 people including Khouni Lomban Rawung represented as Yaki Ambassador Indonesia. She deserves it and we are so proud of her! Not only by showing a genuine support to join the effort to save nature through yaki conservation, but also her passion and kindness. Since our yaki pride campaign took place in Bitung in 2014, Khouni has been going extra miles with the team to spread awareness about the yaki and has become a great role model for the community. Well done and congratulations my dear! Since the first day of this event, yaki has been mentioned by the staff of the ministry several times, indicating how they have become increasingly popular, largely due to the efforts of inspirations such as our Yaki Ambassador Indonesia.

We also decided to visit one of our main donors Wildlife Reserve Singapore. It was quite a sudden plan and short notice but luckily our former Education Officer – Prisi arranged it, joining also in Batam to support the city of Bitung on their booth about the forest school programme. As soon as we arrived in Singapore Zoo where WRS is based, we were welcomed by the staff and had the privilege to explore the zoo as well as visit the yaki enclosure. The yaki enclosure in is very interesting because it looks pretty natural and similar to the original nature in Sulawesi both from plants and designs. The Singapore Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world with a total of 5 million visitors per year. The strict management of the zoo in accordance with the welfare of animals is very visible in every corner of the zoo. Thank you staff WRS and everyone who made the Singapore and Batam visit a great and enjoyable success!

Presenting Selamatkan Yaki’s activities at Singapore Zoo

Our Programmes Coordinator Corinne Bailey visited Singapore Zoo/Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) in July as an invited speaker to present about Selamatkan Yaki. Since 2016, Wildlife Reserves Singapore has supported Selamatkan Yaki and helped us achieve our ambitious goals to save the Critically Endangered Yaki through education, community conservation and research.

Since 2016, WRS have contributed hugely to projects including our Yaki Youth Camp, collaborative governance forums and our region wide camera trap survey for to find out more about yaki range and populations. Thanks to sponsors like WRS, we have been able to reach thousands of people with our conservation messages, and we continue to find out more about the precious yaki population and how to protect it.


During her visit, Corinne got to see the popular new Yaki exhibit in Singapore Zoo, as well as meeting the dedicated Conservation and Research team to discuss exciting new collaborations between WRS and Selamatkan Yaki. Starting this year, we will be joining forces on an ambitious new project funded by WAZA and Disney to connect local families with nature and encourage sustainable living practices in communities bordering protected areas. We are also working together on an exciting 3 year-long campaign to stop the illegal bushmeat trade in North Sulawesi.

Thanks to the whole team at WRS for the warm welcome and attention during Corinne’s all staff lunchtime presentation, we are so thankful that we can share this journey together towards our shared mission to protect yaki and protect the wildlife of North Sulawesi.


GMIM Church Supports Yaki Conservation

When working towards pro-environmental behavioural change, it is important to target efforts to key audiences we want to reach. This effort includes tailoring our approach to deliver conservation messages which meet the cultural and religious background and needs of our audiences in North Sulawesi. This approach makes it easier for people to relate with our messages, to understand and feel empowered to take action for wildlife.

One of the major threats for North Sulawesi wildlife is hunting for bushmeat consumption. Previous research and direct experience in the region have shown that bushmeat consumption within North Sulawesi is mostly observed within Christian communities. North Sulawesi is a majority Christian province, with 80% of the populace practicing Christianity. Therefore, the church provides a big opportunity to deliver conservation messages from a religious and moral perspective. GMIM (Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa) is one of the largest denominations in North Sulawesi, with nearly 1000 churches and over 800,000 members across the region. Therefore, the GMIM denomination plays a major role and platform for messaging to reduce bushmeat consumption and end illegal wildlife trade of protected species in bushmeat markets.

Last week (13th June 2019), the Selamatkan Yaki team, supported by our Yaki Ambassador Indonesia, Khouni Lombang Rawung signed a 5 year collaboration agreement with GMIM. This agreement was signed by Dr. Hein Arina, the Synod Executive Board of the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa (Ketua Badan Pekerja Sinode GMIM). The SY team are thankful for this opportunity to spread our conservation message to such a wide audience. We have already worked with GMIM on a letter that urges the congregation to reduce single use plastics and to stop bushmeat consumption.  This will be distributed to all of the churches and socialized to the whole GMIM congregation.

Yunita Siwi – Ketua Yayasan Selamatkan Yaki Indonesia, Khouni Lomban Rawung – Duta Yaki Indonesia, Pdt Hein Arina – Ketua BPMS GMIM


We will also continue to implement our Green Gospel program within the church.  Our Green Gospel program focuses on developing conservation messages of environmental protection and sustainability through engagement with religious leaders and providing a wildlife and environmental focused Sunday school syllabus (co-created by priest and church representatives). We expect this pivotal collaboration will enhance and encourage pro-environmental principles within church community, help foster a sense of pride in North Sulawesi biodiversity, and reduce threats to its valuable wildlife like the Yaki.

T-Fob says Marijo Ka Tangkoko!

Exploring Tangkoko from photo exhibition!

“Marijo ka Tangkoko!” (“come to Tangkoko!”) was the theme for photo exhibition by local community group known as T-FOB (Tukang Foto Orang Batuputih) the Indonesian for photographers from Batuputih, facilitated by Selamatkan Yaki and Bitung City government. T-FOB is a local photo community of whose all members are from Batuputih village of Bitung and mostly work as local guide in Tangkoko. Located at the Atrium Manado Town Square 3 on 22 – 23 March 2019, in celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Tangkoko’s status as a protected area and the International Day of Forests. This photo exhibition also aims to promote the work of local photographers in Batuputih village as well as to increase the interest of local tourists to visit Batuputih Nature Recreation Park by showing the beauty of the forest. Strong images can be remembered more easily than words alone, and so visual media is widely used by different types of organizations to tell stories to people globally. Photos are therefore very important for wildlife conservation. Trying to spread three important messages about the Yaki, namely that they are endemic, endangered and protected, Selamatkan Yaki has used photos across several platforms to reach as many people as possible. As part of our social media strategy, images and video are powerful and easy to use to send conservation messages.

Previously, photos of biodiversity in TWA Batuputih Tangkoko are mostly from tourists and foreign researchers. Realizing the development in the photography skills of local people the idea of the exhibition emerged to increase their capacity. We are really proud to see that beautiful images from Tangkoko can reach more people. According to one of the members of T-FOB, Alfrets Masala expressed that they felt excited to be involved in this exhibition. Enthusiastic visitors also surprised them, many people were engaged and asked lots of questions. Around 57 photos from T-FOB were displayed including some from Selamatkan Yaki and Bitung City government as well as our partners from Tasikoki and Macaca Nigra Project.

The exhibition was officially opened by the regional secretary of the City of Bitung, Audy Pangemanan and attended by the first lady of Bitung and Yaki Ambassador Indonesia Khouni Lomban Rawung and the head of Environmental service of Bitung Sadat Minabari. And in addition to photo exhibitions, we also invited senior photographers such as Denny Taroreh, Ronny Buol and Arthur Salibana to share their experiences and skill transfer through photography techniques as well as motivation in how to use photos as a tool in conservation.

The work of T-FOB received a high appreciation from Ibu Khouni. According to her, photos are only one way to convey and promote the beauty of biodiversity in TWA Batuputih Tangkoko Bitung and can also become a tool to promote tourism. For this, she would love to highlight those photos from the exhibition to be expanded into a book. The book will become used as merchandise of the city of Bitung that can be use as tourism promotion. Exciting plan!

Hydroponic trial in Kasawari

A hydroponic system has been trialing since October 2017 at Kasawari village as an initiative to reduce the threats to protected forests as well as benefiting local people.

What is hydroponics? The word originally comes from the Greek “hydro” -meaning water and “ponos” – power. Another term used to describe hydroponics is soilless culture, or cultivation without soil. So, hydroponic means cultivating plants using water and without soil.

Kasawari village in city region of Bitung directly borders onto KPHK Tangkoko – Duasudara Nature Reserve. Such an important village in the buffer zone of the last stronghold for Macaca nigra. This village has no access to fresh water. Local people use rain water and have to buy fresh water from the city for Rp.60.000 per 1.200lt. An explosion by nearby volcano Mount Batuangus has caused the ground in Kasawari to be sandy and dry, and its coastal location means there are very high temperatures. The hea and dryness of the area means that it is very difficult to plant . People are relying on a “pedagang sayur keliling” (trading vegetables by motorbike) to get fresh vegetables where the nearest market is located around 6-8km away in Winenet. This need is one of many considerations why Selamatkan Yaki chose to trial the hypdroponic system in Kasawari.

First harvest in July 2017

Through collaboration in EPASS Project “Enhancing the Protected Area System in Sulawesi” coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme, financed by the Global Environmental Facility and administered through the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Selamatkan Yaki started a Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) in Kasawari in October 2017. This began with a comprehensive study to choose the top two areas for implementation around KPHK Tangkoko, as indicated by the needs and availability of proposed approaches. A meeting with related stakeholders was conducted, forming the basis for robust plan of action to implement the SLA project, including surveys, feasibility studies, socialization and capacity building

A greenhouse was installed in early May 2018 followed by the training of key community representatives. People were trained in a range of hydroponic techniques, and the first harvest in July 2018 collected more than five different types of vegetables. This trial project marks a promising beginning for forest protection and equivalent benefits to local communities. The hydroponics model can hopefully be developed and adopted well into this society and other areas facing similar challenges.

Refresher Camp for Yaki Ambassadors

One of the activities of Selamatkan Yaki (SY) conservation programme is the Yaki Youth Camp (YYC), a capacity building activity to train and develop select local youths to become Yaki Ambassadors in North Sulawesi. Through SY’s Education & Awareness Raising Strategy (EARS) unit, we conduct this conservation training camp to facilitate the ambassadors with a deeper understanding about yaki and the various threats that they face, to expand their knowledge in conservation as well as develop their skills, leadership and confidence to better equip them in educating and raising public awareness. YYC was first conducted in 2014 at the Yayasan Institut Seni Budaya Sulawesi Utara in Tompaso, Minahasa with participants from our first campaign areas Tomohon-Langowan, followed by YYC 2015 with participants from our second campaign areas Bitung-Airmadidi, then YYC 2016 with participants from our third campaign area South Minahasa. Following these camps, the youth Yaki Ambassadors have helped us reach over 30.000 local students, teachers and other members of communities throughout all three campaign areas, through school talks, information stands and giving independent talks in their neighborhoods, extracurricular clubs and church gatherings, embodying their environmental identities by acting as an ambassador for M. nigra conservation in their own community.

On June 25-28, 2018, we held the Yaki Youth Camp: Refresher Training 2018 at TWA Batuputih Camping Ground in Tangkoko for the most active and dedicated youth Yaki Ambassadors from all three campaign areas. This 4 day/3 night refresher training camp gave us the chance to re-engage with a total of 23 ambassadors, to continue to motivate and inspire them, revive their confidence as well as encourage creative thinking to develop youth-empowered conservation initiatives. The purpose of this refresher camp is to further mold these youth Yaki Ambassadors to become more confident in educating their peers and raising public awareness about yaki conservation, to help them further understand how to become a “role model” for environment-friendly behaviour, to brainstorm together about various conservation actions that are both creative and effective as well as to encourage them to continue actively support SY activities, considering the intensity of illegal hunting that still threatens yaki population and other protected wildlife in North Sulawesi.

During this action-packed camp, participants were provided with various activities, games as well as inspirational and educational talks by speakers whom are experts in the field, such as Dr. John Tasirin from Sam Ratulangi University who talked about biodiversity in North Sulawesi and Dwiyandhi Febriyanti from Macaca Nigra Project (MNP) who took the participants to see yaki in their natural habitat while providing in-depth explanation about the species and the conservation efforts that MNP is doing. Billy Lolowang from Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue & Education Center helped the participants understand more about wildlife rescue and explained about Tasikoki’s role in it and Grace Nelwan, a long-time mentor for North Sulawesi’s network of tourism pageants, got on board to provide the Yaki Ambassadors with public speaking training and helped them find solutions for the various obstacles that they may encounter in the field. We also had the absolute pleasure of having Indonesian Yaki Ambassador Khouni Lomban Rawung share her experiences as Yaki Ambassador whom has gone above and beyond to support conservation efforts in North Sulawesi, further motivating her fellow ambassadors while also discussing conservation issues and how we can work together to mitigate them.

Camp participants proved to be highly enthusiastic and involved all throughout camp, as can be seen through how they really got into the discussion and brainstorm sessions which would often become exciting. They also provided personal reflection and evaluation of their experiences, providing indicators of the impact of their involvement as representatives of conservation efforts on both their personal development and their involvement with local communities. They shared aspirations and hopes for the future of wildlife conservation and reached a consensus to keep supporting the conservation of protected wildlife, especially yaki.

Following this refresher camp, we are confident to see more real conservation actions by the Yaki Ambassadors to help mitigate conservation issues in North Sulawesi, through community engagement and raising public awareness as well as promoting positive behaviour towards the environment. Together we will save the yaki!

International Macaque Week 2018

The first week of May is the coolest time of the year. Seven days every year are dedicated to celebrate the diversity of the world through the many species of macaque and to reach many more people to raise awareness about the threats they face. There are 23 macaques species around the world, Indonesia has 11 and 7 of them can be found on the island of Sulawesi including Macaca nigra (yaki). Sulawesi is very special to have such macaque diversity, yet sadly most of them are threatened with extinction. Selamatkan Yaki has been joining this amazing event since it was first initiated by our friends at Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation in 2016. This year we coordinated an amazing effort with partners and government with activities ranging from dancing with the heart-shaped bottom, to yaki rescue missions from island to island.

The city of Bitung is such an important area for biodiversity of North Sulawesi where the amazing forest of Tangkoko is located, with exposure of conservation outreach especially about the yaki since our Yaki Pride Campaign entered this area in 2015. The great support from the local government proves the success of our strategy to support role models within the campaign area as an extended hand to carry forward conservation efforts.

Mrs.Khouni and her husband the Mayor of Bitung were handing out questions about yaki conservation at Car Free Day event.


Alongside famous rock band SLANK and our youth ambassadors we have been blessed to be supported by Mrs Khouni Lomban Rawung, first lady of Bitung city as Yaki Ambassador Indonesia, adding another woman of power to the list of yaki savers. Her genuine passion about the environment, hard work and influence has been a boost to the goal to reach as many people as possible about how special the macaque is and the importance to save them from extinction. As Yaki Ambassador Indonesia, she promotes three key messages about the macaques, that they are: Endemic to North Sulawesi, Critically Endangered and Protected by Indonesian Law. Just before the celebration of International Macaque Week, a local farmer who was exposed to the conservation messages approached her and reported an illegal pet macaque in Lembeh Island and was happy to arrange a hand over. With great coordination between the government of Bitung, BKSDA North Sulawesi (Forestry) and our partners Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre, Mrs Khouni managed to bring us all together on a rescue mission.

Friday the 4th  saw a boat full of conservationists – the yaki savers – excited to be crossing for the first time to Lembeh strait to pick up a juvenile male macaque that had been illegally kept as a pet. The sun shined perfectly on the surface of the sea, bringing hope for yaki conservation efforts. The journey by boat was followed by crossing the hilly lands of Lembeh island adding to the adventurous vibe of the day. The team arrived in the location surrounded by coconut trees, and right next to the road there was the little macaque chained to a tree. Mixed feelings were of sadness to see him taken from the wild but also positive hope that he is going to be healthier and happier in the rehabilitation centre. Mrs Khouni kindly led the day by showing appreciation to the illegal pet owner of the awareness and willing to hand over the macaque and the three essential yaki conservation messages were mentioned, part of educating the representatives of local people who were there. The rescue team of Tasikoki handled the macaque professionally, managed to unchain him from the tree and very careful moved him to the transport cage. An important message was also shared by Mr Yakub Ambugau, the new head of SKW 1 – BKSDA North Sulawesi that any hand over of wildlife will be proceed without law enforcement so local people do not have to be afraid of report and give up the illegal ownership of wildlife. Adding to these informative speeches, Mr Sadat Sabahari – head of Environmental Department of Bitung City showed support and willingness to collaborate for forest assessment and improvement to avoid the conflict between wildlife and local people. A heartwarming afternoon during sunset time crossing Lembeh strait back to the mainland of Bitung, on the boat the little macaque was seen checked around his surroundings.

After a mission to get Nona down the tree in the dark, Tasikoki team unchained Nona.


One down, four to go! It was certainly not the end of the day, and the team were to continue another hour drive to a village called Resettlement – Likupang for a very special long time call for a female yaki named Nona. Nona had appeared in National Geographic Magazine in March 2017 but had previously disappeared from the original reported location. Now she was finally taken in by the Tasikoki rescue team, after great coordination with award winning wildlife photographer Stefano Unterthiner for whom Nona was very close to his heart, with a striking portrait which for Stefano encapsulated the pet trade in one poignant image.

The SY team ended the day by sharing an important message to remind people that it is more important to avoid taking wildlife from the wild for pets rather than eventually giving them up to the rehabilitation centre. We hope the message can spread to many people. High fives all around to celebrate such amazing collaboration!

In addition to this, on Saturday three more individual macaques were rescued from Poopo village in South Minahasa, where friendly locals were looking after the macaques as their legs healed after they became trapped in snares set for forest pigs. Tasikoki coordinated with Harry and Yunita who were doing social fieldwork at the time to help the hand over of an adult male, adult female and her bouncy little juvenile. The owners were already well informed about the importance of not keeping wild animals as pets, but were very happy to learn more and also help our efforts to inform their neighbours of the importance of yaki conservation.

Kids were doing Zumba with heart-shaped bottom with Zumba® Kids &Zumba® Kids Jr. Instructor Alexandra Rattu.

Finally, the week’s activities came to a climax with an amazing gathering on the Saturday in Bitung for a special yaki themed version of the regular car free day in the centre of the city. With dancing, education stalls, conservation speeches and various other activities, this was a positive and lively event full of hope. This and all the macaque day activities highlighted the wonderful collaboration here in North Sulawesi, and the amazing progress toward creating a culture of care for the unique wildlife here.