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!