The island of Sulawesi is the largest island included in the biogeographically unique region of Wallacea. Separated from the rest of Indonesia by the Wallace’s Line and from Australia-New Guinea by the Lydekkeer’s Line (which are used to designate geographical differences in wildlife), the flora and fauna of Wallacea have evolved to represent a high degree of endemism, species found nowhere else. As such, this area has been designated as one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots.
Sulawesi covers 174,600 km2, and is divided into six provinces. North Sulawesi, where Selamatkan Yaki is based, encompasses the regencies of Minahasa and Bolaang Mongondow, recognised as the native range of yaki. Much of Sulawesi’s unique biodiversity is under threat of extinction, evidenced by the number of species listed as Critically Endangered and Endangered in the IUCN red data list. It is likely that the degree of threat is underestimated for many species as few conservation efforts have historically been undertaken, or are currently active there. Recent conservation assessments highlighted Sulawesi as a globally important conservation area – a place of true natural value, representing the most effective investment of conservation funding ahead of other islands in Indonesia.
It is here where the yaki have made their home, in the once lush lowland forests of Minahasa. People come from all over the world to visit the area for its unique wildlife, including beautiful coral reefs and many terrestrial attractions. North Sulawesi has included the development of ecotourism infrastructure as a top priority in its governmental development strategy. It is hoped that by improving the availability of clear information, more visitors will be aware of the rarity and importance of yaki and other species and reduce their impacts, whilst spreading a positive message about the unique wildlife of North Sulawesi and ways to help protect it.