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.


Education activities supported by Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo has been a proud supporter of Selamatkan Yaki since 2010. The zoo has a large breeding troop of Sulawesi-crested macaques which are part of the European zoo breeding programme. The troop are a firm favourite with visitors and help to convey important conservation messages about this critically endangered species.

School talk at a primary school in a rural part of northern Sulawesi – Tumpaan

 

In May 2017, Dublin Zoo sent Sandra Molloy, Registrar/Research and Conservation Coordinator, to Sulawesi to meet the Selamatkan Yaki team and to witness the great work they do. Accompanying her were two people from Moondance, the production company for Dublin Zoo’s very popular programme, “The Zoo” to film the visit. Over the course of several days, the SY team demonstrated how they reach out to so many different groups from school children, to meat sellers in markets to government officials with the help of the ever-enthusiastic yaki ambassadors. An amazing day was spent in Tangkoko Nature Reserve where time was spent observing a gregarious troop of yaki, a resting bear cuscus, an awaking tarsier family and countless numbers of birds and spiders. The visit ended with a trip to Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre which helps many species of animals, including yaki, which have been rescued from the wildlife trade.

In mid-May 2018 viewers in Ireland can view this amazing visit to Sulawesi on “The Zoo” television programme. This programme is also broadcast in many countries around the world including the U.K, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Thailand so keep your eyes peeled.


Yaki population surveys underway

With support from EPASS and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, SY are taking on the enormous task of surveying the population of Yaki across its native North Sulawesi range. Three teams composed of rangers, university forestry students and local community members are currently in the field strategically deploying 53 camera traps, kindly provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Cameras will remain in the field for 12 weeks and the data used to estimate the status and distribution of the Yaki. This will become an essential baseline for a continued annual monitoring effort. This in turn will allow us to track the status of the population over time, meaning we can track our own progress towards our mission of saving the Yaki!
Here is a short video of one of our survey teams, led by SY’s Programmes Coordinator Dr. Caspian Johnson, conducting an essential pilot study in the Tangkoko Nature Reserve. This pilot survey was an important first step to hone our forest skills and methods before extending our efforts across the Yaki’s range, and was made possible by support from Wildlife Reserves Singapore to whom we are very grateful.

Enhancing the Protected Area System of Sulawesi!

Since July 2017, SY have been involved in an exciting new project aiming to make the protected areas of Sulawesi more effective at reducing their threats. EPASS stands for “Enhancing the Protected Area System in Sulawesi”, a multi-faceted bilateral conservation agreement to protect the region’s unique biodiversity. The project is coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme, financed by the Global Environmental Facility and administered through the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

The project has three main components:
1. Enhanced systemic and institutional capacity
2. Financial sustainability of the Sulawesi Protected Area system
3. Threat reduction and collaborative governance

Two of the three forest sites included in this project, Tangkoko Nature Reserve and Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, are crucial habitat for the yaki, so along with a wide variety of partners SY are working hard to reduce the threats to these areas through a variety of different approaches.

With a collaborative agreement four years in the making, this project has enabled SY to increase in capacity to achieve many of our ambitious goals. This includes a region-wide monitoring project to survey the yaki populations, development of a sustainable livelihoods strategy and expanded education and outreach efforts across the province. Check our projects to see what we are currently involved in, all activities of which are supported all or in part under the EPASS project. We will aim to keep you updated with project progress and share updates as the project develops, bringing fresh new hope to the conservation of the yaki and many other endangered species across Sulawesi!

Selamatkan Yaki Programme Director Harry Hilser at the EPASS Inception Meeting, November 2016

Welcome to our brand new website!

The new Selamatkan Yaki website is now live and I am really happy to welcome you on it! After a few years of preparations and a few setbacks, we finally did it! It has been a long journey and a real team effort. I would like to thank all of our team members who have helped bring this website to life as well as all our sponsors who have contributed to its realization through their generous contributions.

We already have some plans to improve it and we will be aiming to keep it fresh and updated. If you have any feedback please drop us an email at info@selamatkanyaki.ngo or use our contact form. We hope that you will find a lot of useful information regarding our projects, the yaki as a species and all the different ways that you can help them.

Gaetan Masson

Together we will save the Yaki!

 

Image: (C) Stefano Unterthiner Photography