Yaki friends, check out blog post below to learn about how our research is helping to conserve the Critically Endangered crested black macaques in the wild. Led by Caspian Johnson in 2016 – 2018 has resulted in a great step forwards for the conservation of one of the worlds most endangered primates – the crested black macaque.This work, supported by Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Wild Planet Trust helped show for the first time the distribution of the species across its native range.
Working as a conservation practitioner and researcher in North Sulawesi, Indonesia for the past decade has enriched me with an abundance of vibrant experiences of nature and captivating local communities. While I have spent a great time with locals throughout my work, nothing prepared me for the depth of experience that my ethnographic field research for my PhD would yield. Exploring prosociality and connectedness to nature, I lived entirely as the villagers do, following their activities day and night for many months. I cooked with them, ate with them and hunted with them, conversed and played with them, attended religious ceremonies and worship, and planted and tended their crops and brought in their harvests. I experienced first-hand their struggles, their open and expressive joys and their colourful cultural nuances.
In my final study location, Poopo village, I recall a young wild pig hunter named Siron. Siron is a striking character – his demeanour is calm, caring, calculating and it was fascinating to engage with him about his worldviews and authentic connection to the natural world. He is a farmer but also sets traps to catch wild pigs and sell them for their meat. We first visited him to assess the condition of a mother and infant Sulawesi crested black macaque monkey (Macaca nigra, known locally as “Yaki”) caught in one of his traps. The wire snares which are indiscriminate hunting traps, endanger numerous species and increase pressures on wild animal populations globally.
Two striking things emerged from engaging with Siron. Firstly, he and his sibling explained to us the three key elements of the campaign message which we also share at Selamatkan Yaki as the foundation for our outreach programs. This includes that the monkeys are endangered, endemic (only found in the province) and protected. We were pleasantly surprised that in this remote rural village they had learned this through campaign materials installed by our foundation featuring prominent local and political representatives and persuasive messaging.
Second, was Siron’s eagerness to release the monkeys back to the wild and support our work.
Siron was very cooperative and left a lasting impression on me. I recall the dramatic and extremely sweaty final day of my fieldwork which included the release of the monkeys to the slippery sloped peak of the forested mountain hugging the village. I was exhausted after long weeks of work, but the exhaustion disappeared when I finally saw the pair emerge from their transport crates, and climb the trees once again, back in their lush and diverse rainforest home.
This act of conservation was a poignant way to bring my empirical journey to a close – bonding with a hunter to liberate the victims of our broken relations with wildlife. A Critically Endangered monkey, its existence threatened by bushmeat consumption, perpetuated by social structures dictated by norms of wildlife exploitation, yet increasingly challenged by shifting conventions and deepening awareness. Siron will now join several other hunters that share his philosophy and empower them by sharing their experiences with village communities, in a new role model roadshow approach this year.
This unforgettable experience, with its powerful lessons and indications of change, helped me boost my sense of authentic, active hope. It was a genuine sign of shifting attitudes, awareness and the eagerness of people to align with their innate compassionate predispositions.
I believe that we have, for too long, been riding an uncomfortable path towards focusing on and thus reporting the challenges of our work. It has become a normative habit manifesting itself through the unfortunately pervasive “culture of despair” in conservation. Drawing upon my experiences as a practitioner, I have made it my mission to help spread positivity in this often gloomily and pessimistic, yet increasingly brightening sector.
It is time to break the expectation of finding the latest depressing news to share, whilst not losing sight of monitoring real challenges. Let’s smile and celebrate the successes and goodness that so many people are achieving around the world, the complex beauty of nature and the progress being made to protect it. Pessimism inhibits motivation and productivity while optimism warms the soul and keeps you going even when it’s cold outside!
leave you with this wonderful quote from our hunter friend Siron when asked if he gets tired walking so many miles in the forest each day, to which he expressed:
“Tiredness is paid off by enjoyment when in nature. For the future of our grandchildren, we need to love nature”.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Harry has led a range of research and conservation projects for over a decade and is currently finalising his PhD in connectedness to nature. He specialises in human values and behaviour change for biodiversity conservation. As Programme Director for Selamatkan Yaki, an integrated species conservation programme based in Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia, Harry is responsible for rolling out innovative approaches to protect the habitat and remaining populations of the Critically Endangered Sulawesi crested black macaque (Macaca nigra).
Harry is also the Co-Founder of Lestari Environmental Education Consultancy (https://lestari.org/). Lestari works within the social and environmental sciences to combine education and conservation practice with sustainability, behaviour change, and principles of nature connection. Collaborating with NGOs, universities, governments and businesses Lestari delivers high-impact projects and develops innovative strategies for chang
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.
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.
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!
In December 2019 I had the chance to get to know the work of Selamatkan Yaki through an internship. The internship has been made possible in the frame of the exchange program for young professionals organised by the German organisation “ifa” (institute for foreign relations). As a fellow of this exchange program I was interested in strengthening my knowledge and experience in the areas of community development and education for sustainable development.
In my home organisation “MehrGenerationenHaus Wassertor”, a neighbourhood centre in Berlin, I am working as an educator and community manager. My areas of expertise are education for sustainable development, social equality and capacity building. Thus it has been a wonderful chance to get to know the ambitious team of Selamatkan Yaki and to discover their work and impact.
Selamatkan Yaki is doing an excellent work in empowering local communities and strengthening social & ecological development in a reciprocal and supportive way. It´s been very enriching to me, to discover similarities in our work and to see how the Selamatkan Yaki team is tackling systematic challenges, like fair distribution of ecological responsibilities in the area of tourism.
My three weeks have been packed with diverse activities: From radio podcasts to advertisement about the protection of the Macaca nigra at traditional markets; from Upcycling Workshops to discovering shared work visions; from strengthening families to getting to know approaches of ecotourism. So much has been made possible! It has been a pleasant mixture between work with local communities, public relations and exchanging thoughts about best practices.
I am grateful for having been welcomed with open arms & hearts, quickly accepted as a part of the “Yaki family” and for having been able to experience the work of this great organisation in North Sulawesi. Selamatkan Yaki is working astonishingly passionate on their mission of making this world a better place, through bringing back together which always belonged together: Nature and human.
Dear Selamatkan Yaki, thank you for spreading your enthusiasm and for lightening up the importance of living together in unity with our environment. Thanks for supporting and saving the wonderful Macaca Nigra! Together we will save the Yaki!
Pedagogic Manager of the youth and family sector and Community Manager of MehrGenerationenHaus Wassertor,
German CrossCulture Programme – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa)
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!
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!
Borås Djurpark is a new sponsor of Selamatkan Yaki through efforts of Borås Djurpark Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Borås Djurpark AB, in the southwest of Sweden, keep a wide range of species from all over the world. Many of them are highly endangered in the wild and together with hundreds of European zoos we are participating in numerous well-coordinated, long-term breeding programs alongside working with public education and wildlife research.
The general aim of the zoo is to contribute to a more sustainable human society and to long-term conservation of biodiversity both locally and globally. To further develop these efforts Borås Djurpark Wildlife Conservation Fund was established in 2017 which more efficiently enables us to support in-situ conservation projects around the world. Through it we collect donations from visitors, local companies and other stakeholders, and raise awareness of the species and the conservational work of the organizations that we support and collaborate with.
One of our focus species has been the Crested Black Macaque (Macaca nigra). We have kept this species in the zoo for many years and we are an active part of the EAZA-coordinated breeding program. In 2018 we were also very glad to start a collaboration with Selamatkan Yaki thorugh Borås Djurpark Wildlife Conservation Fund, enabling more direct support to the conservation of this charismatic species. The first approved funds were allocated to the new Education Centre adjoining the nature reserve Tangkoko-Batuangus!
We always seek to collaborate with organizations that have a holistic approach to conservation. Projects that benefit the local fauna and flora as well as local communities are most likely to experience long-term success. We look forward to developing our collaboration with Selamatkan Yaki and our support for the Macaca nigra as well as the general biodiversity and local communities of the region.
Borås Djurpark AB
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!
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.
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.
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.