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.

Harry Hilser PhD

In 2014, SY’s Programme Director Harry Hilser embarked on a long and colourful journey to explore the relationships that local communities have with the natural world. Supported by The Wild Planet Trust and based at The University of Exeter, Harry focused his part-time PhD on connectedness to nature. He shares here a few words about the experience:

After a decade of living in North Sulawesi, I have come to learn how important the social sciences are for conservation. Environmental challenges are human behaviour challenges. I have spent much time trying to understand what nature means to local communities, the values that underpin these relationships and cultural drivers of behaviours and practices related to the natural environment. After connecting deeply with many different highly social communities, I became particularly interested in the links between the prosocial (the strong social ties and helpfulness) and proenvironmental (looking after nature) behaviours of rural communities in North Sulawesi.

Through an immersive ethnography (living as the local people do on all levels), I discovered rich insights about the cognitive and spiritual histories of the Minahasan and Bolaang Mongondow ethnic groups. I learned how belief systems and social norms control the expression of certain attitudes and values, and have been able to shine light on ways to nurture more positive relationships between people and place.

I submitted my thesis in January 2021 and successfully defended my research during the viva examination in March. The ethnographic study was such an incredible, immersive, and eye-opening experience, certainly one that will be with me always. It has truly enhanced our understanding of the socio-cultural conditions and the stories which underpin the local communities’ relationships with nature; thus offering insights into how we can work together with them to empower and enable them to become more caring and ecocentric. 

I carry such deep gratitude for all the wonderful people who shared their lives throughout this remarkable experience, and everyone who supported me and helped make it possible. I hope the findings of my research and the strategic theory of change developed as a part of the process will help strengthen SY’s conservation approaches and therefore offer a brighter future for the Yaki.

You can read Harry’s PhD thesis here. Note, it is quite a substantial document so perhaps just the abstract and a few ethnographic accounts may be of interest.

GROAAAR! Festival

Spreading the Yaki conservation stories on the other side of the globe, one of our sponsors Mulhouse zoo in France organized an annual comic-book festival to raise awareness and collect funds for the Yaki. The festival took place in mid-June 2021 with more than 30 artists including comic strip artists, illustrators and graphic designers that have worked with Mulhouse zoo to create the comic book, of which the proceeds were donated to Selamatkan Yaki! Merci #Yakisavers in France!

Approaching Market Sellers in Tomohon

The illegal wildlife trade for bushmeat consumption is one of the biggest threats to the world’s biodiversity including Macaca nigra (yaki). Multiple challenges remain in the consumption of endangered species in local markets, including social norms of animal consumption, lack of awareness of issues, unclear regulations, and insufficient law enforcement. Selamatkan Yaki has developed a holistic strategy to tackle these issues, which emerged as the result of a key multi-stakeholder meeting we facilitated in January 2020.

Aimed to reach a total target of 10 big markets in North Sulawesi, we carefully structure the engagement meetings from building interest and triggering the sense of pride of large numbers of unique wildlife in North Sulawesi and the importance of their role in the ecosystem, to sharing the threats they are facing to build a collective demand and an urge to get involved in protecting it. By the end of the meetings, the sellers sign a declaration, and publicly recognized to be certified for not selling wildlife as part of the efforts in wildlife conservation. First market to start with is Tomohon traditional market!

As a strategic first step, a Roundtable discussion was initiated in November 5th 2020. The aim of this meeting was to specifically address the role of the traditional markets in preserving various animals. As we are aware, these markets in Minahasa remain a place for buying and selling bushmeat, a persistent threat to the species and other endangered wildlife. Local and national elections were happening in Tomohon at the time, raising the Tomohon market as the focus of attention because the market has been known for its “extreme market” stigma due to the sale of its diverse bushmeat and the attractions on display. This is addressed through a long-time approach by Selamatkan Yaki, which is seeing the shift of association and identity away from an identity of consumption of wildlife to one on pride.

The discussion was attended by the Tomohon city government, related agencies from the North Sulawesi Government, business actors, media, observers, and practitioners. Together they produced several specific and detailed recommendations both in the short and long term. All of them agreed to move together to do their respective parts so that the extreme stigma against the Tomohon market could return to being a traditional market that is environmentally friendly and even more proud of North Sulawesi’s unique wildlife. Tomohon Market is famous and can be a role model to others, so there will be a movement of change to other markets in North Sulawesi. Together we care about the condition of wildlife and to promote the new campaign message of change “Bekeng Sulut Bannga” (“Make North Sulawesi Proud”) along with branding in a broad campaign across all the markets.

Visit to meat section stalls in Tomohon traditional market

After several intensive meetings with traders in their stalls, an agreement was obtained to fully support the efforts to bring Tomohon Beriman Market as a green market to not sell endangered and protected species. Agreeing to let go of existing stigma, namely Tomohon Market as an “Extreme Market” and together fostering changing views and feelings of pride the traders were active and supporting with their involvement in the efforts of 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). In addition to being attended by 11 bushmeat traders, this activity was attended by Assistant 2 of Tomohon government, Ir Enos Pontororing and representatives from the North Sulawesi Regional Police, Head of the North Sulawesi Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA), representatives from related agencies in the Tomohon City Government such as the Health Office , Department of Industry and Trade, Office of Tourism, Office of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry of Tomohon City, the Association of Indonesian Tour Guides (HPI) North Sulawesi, Ibu Khouni Lomban Rawang as Yaki Ambassador Indonesia, staff of the Market Regional Companies and 3 local media. The event was heralded by all as very significant, with the permanent installation of the signboard in the meat section as a commitment of the sellers to take action in the Wildlife Trade Mitigation Strategy.

Hunter : Role Model Roadshow

Despite the second wave of the pandemic that has caused various restrictions in the area in North Sulawesi, we have made significant progress with all project activities. We kicked out the engagement to local people through a role model roadshow (RMR); bringing an ex-hunter to give a talk and testimony about the positive change to pro-environment. The concept of the Role Model Roadshow (RMR) is to build upon our previous positive lessons and social diffusion approaches to influence a crucial target group of hunters across North Sulawesi, to stop hunting protected species, in particular the Yaki. The province has been toured with several specially selected hunters, whom have become aware of the importance of not hunting all species and regarding the need to protect the Yaki. The role model hunters sign a declaration of pride, stating they no longer hunt protected species and are trained how best to engage others. They then lead socializations and focus groups in multiple villages across the province, to discuss key aspects of hunting and campaign to other hunters about the importance of avoiding hunting protected species.

Although experiencing delays and several changes in schedule due to the pandemic, RMR was finally able to be implemented in 2021. The RMR model aims to build a sense of pride in hunters of wild animals, by avoiding hunting species that are threatened or protected. This activity also develops a forum that empowers hunters who have become aware of and have switched professions to protect wildlife. There were three speakers who were involved and have now become active ambassadors in their villages. RMR activities were carried out in three key areas in North Sulawesi, namely North Minahasa, South Minahasa and Bolaang Mongondow districts with a total of 19 villages and the reach of 152 villagers, namely 68 hunters and 64 villages officer with a majority representing as village officials or the highest leaders in the village.

We distributed questionnaire sheets at the beginning and at the end of each meeting to measure people’s knowledge of threatened and protected wildlife, and how much they were interested in socializing wildlife.

RMR is carried out with a relaxed discussion-sharing method by first completing questionnaires before and after activities, followed by lighthearted games, sharing discussions and finally preparing joint declarations. The joint declaration contains a statement of pride for the wildlife in North Sulawesi and a joint commitment to safeguard and protect threatened and protected wild animals.

Dendi Karundeng, representing the spokesperson shared this touching testimony:

‘I am proud to be an agent of change by tirelessly inviting hunters to be wise in hunting, by being more in favor of wildlife preservation, being able to choose, avoiding threatened and protected animals so that their children and grandchildren will still see them instead of just hearing about them. In every meeting with the hunters in the village, I share that hunting was my main occupation in the past. However, when Selamatkan Yaki entered the school and my children brought the message home and reprimanded my behavior, it created a major reflection in me of the presence of wildlife.’

Finally, Dendi dared to take the decision to stop hunting and look for another job. Even now he has become chairman of the Community Forest Conservation Forum (FMKH), a forum initiated by Selamatkan Yaki with communities around the Tangkoko nature reserve, Bitung City.

Tangkoko in Frame book soft launching at Bitung Environment Festival 2020

The beauty of Tangkoko forest is indescribable. There are not enough words to tell what kind of adventures you will have in this watchful forest. This green dense forest next to the ocean offers such an amazing experience, to make you stand on the feet of Albert Rudolf Wallace when he discovered how unique the “creatures” of this place.

Through the publication of new book, ‘Tangkoko in Frame; The Green Hidden Paradise is THREATENED’, Khouni Lomban Rawung and T-FOB (Tukang Foto Orang Batuputih: Batuputih Village Photographers) guide you to explore Tangkoko forest from early morning until late at night. Featuring images by local photographers, Tangkoko in Frame attempts to show unique insights, views from the hidden parts of the forest that you might have not seen yet; the close up world of small insects to the majestic hornbills up in the sky. Tangkoko never falls asleep!

After a year from conception to bringing all the images together, the book was finally brought to the public through a virtual soft-launch at the Bitung Environment Festival on September 19th 2020. Not only to promote the tourism for Bitung, this book is also an educational tool to help people to be proud of the biodiversity inside Tangkoko, to understand the threats, and hopefully to inspire readers to take action for the preservation of this amazing place.  

The author Khouni Lomban Rawung was first amazed by Tangkoko biodiversity pictures taken by T-FOB  that were displayed at “Marijo Ka Tangkoko” (Let’s go to Tangkoko) photo exhibition facilitated by Selamatkan Yaki and Bitung Tourism Department in March 2019. There came the idea to put those pictures together in a book. Those professional images seen to be appreciated and have to be distributed wider to promote Tangkoko and also as capacity building for local photographers. The members of T-FOB itself mostly work as local guides of Batuputih recreation park, where Selamatkan Yaki has been working closely with local guides and communities. Capacity building in many aspects including photography has become one aspect in enhancing the protection of the natural habitat of the yaki.

The soft launch event aimed to get initial reviews and suggestions before the book is  shared widely. Hopefully the positive messages it carries will reach people from all around the world.

Round Table Discussion

Following the Framework for Action established for the WTMS, the pandemic situation limited us to move forward where actually the relation to wildlife trade with regard to the virus transmission from wildlife was hot in the air. Engaging with traders in traditional markets is a key objective in the strategy.

However, it was very difficult to arrange due to restrictions on market operational time and we need to form this approach with extra care as trade in protected species is a crime. Considering its infamous nature we chose to begin in Tomohon.

The team assessed the strategy in the situation and found the most accessible was to begin to approach the government first, to find out about what they actually think of illegal sale of bushmeat in traditional markets.

We found interesting information such as Tomohon government has never officially promoted the market as an “extreme market“. This led to the followup action removing the “extreme” sign a few days after the discussion. The aim was to transform the image of Tomohon market from “extreme” to traditional where it is originally promoted. This step will support our approach to the traders to be cooperative and proud to not sell endangered wildlife.

Maximising follow up of the WTMS while balancing current restrictions, survey of three top traditional market were made in December to study the impacts of the pandemic on bushmeat activities and attitudes of traders and buyers.