Save our environment through active participation of local people
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The projectDr. Willie Smits built the Tasikoki animal rescue center at the end of the 1990s, along with a number of other wildlife rescue centers, to combat the illegal trade in wild animals in Indonesia.
North Sulawesi is a well-known route for wildlife smuggling from Indonesia to the global market through the Philippines. Endangered animals from across the Indonesian archipelago suffer from this trade route. For example, in addition to the many animal species from Sulawesi the center has currently also animals from Sumatra (e.g. Siamang ape), Borneo (orangutans, gibbons, Sun bears), Java (Javanese Leopard and turtles), Papua (Cassowary, parrots, crocodiles). So Tasikoki is located in a strategic location to help the authorities with tackling this crime and to rehabilitate confiscated animals.
The center has a team of dedicated employees, who take care of the animals, let them recover and, if possible, prepare them for reintroduction into the wild. In addition to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals Tasikoki provides local education programs to raise awareness of the threats for the wildlife and precious biodiversity of Indonesia.
The work on the Centre is carried out by local staff led by an international team who only receive food and accommodation for their efforts. They are supported by hard-working volunteers from all over the world. Volunteers participate in the care for the animals and the center and provide a financial contribution that is used for the care and the nutrition of the animals.
The black sandy beach that is part of the center extends into a shallow sea grass plateau located a few hundred meters into the sea. Behind it lies a coral reef, after which the water gets very deep quickly. The reef is partially damaged and we try to restore the coral reef by using, among others, bamboo-constructions. The beach is regularly visited by three species of sea turtles that come and lay eggs. We try to take away the eggs because otherwise collectors they dig them up. The turtles that hatch on Tasikoki are released on the beach. Some of the first hatched turtles have already come back as young adults and have laid eggs themselves.
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Significance and aimsSulawesi is one of the Indonesian islands where deforestation happens at the fastest rate. This is, among other things, due to rapid population growth, illegal logging and the habit of eating virtually all wild animals as bushmeat . There are many unique animal and plant species that occur only on this island (so-called endemic species) and that now are threatened with extinction. Masarang tries to protect these species and reintroduce them in the wild, thus contributing to the preservation of biodiversity. Masarang also conducts campaigns against the eating of wild animals, including pointing out the disease risks.
In Sulawesi still many monkeys get killed for the skulls which used to be human skulls in the old days; this is a former headhunter region. The various skulls are still used in certain rituals and because of tourism there is still demand for more skulls of protected species. Masarang has made fake skulls from recycled plastic which are indistinguishable from real ones. Cultural groups receive these artificial skulls for free if they promise to protect the wildlife.
- To combat the trade in wild animals through law enforcement
- Education of the local population with regard to nature conservation and wildlife
- Release of captured and rehabilitated animals
- High-quality care for the animals that are rescued
- Provide shelter for the animals who unfortunately cannot be released because they cannot survive in the wild
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ResultsSince opening many animals (more than 2000!) of up to 110 different protected species were intercepted before being smuggled out of the country.
After being seized many animals were rehabilitated and released in the wild again. The hornbills in the national park of Tangkoko, for example, come from the center and breed again! Shortly a group of black macaques will be released in the local Irang forest near the village Kayawu in a forest where farmers exploit sugar Palms. The farmers protect these animals in exchange for the benefits of working with the sugar factory which was founded by Masarang. In Irang about 30 black Sulawesi macaques (Macaca nigra) will be released. On the Masarang mountain (see reforestation projects) we are working on a release area (with a fence to protect them) for among others babirusa, deer and macaca heckii, another Sulawesi primate.
Education for especially children who are being guided and taught in the park. Regularly more than 100 school children visit the center monthly. Also, there are occasional tourists who are allowed to visit certain parts of the center under guidance of local workers. Often visitors give a donation which is deployed to the benefit of the animals.
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Plans and needsThe station has a strong need for various new and larger animal housing. These includes a release cage for birds of prey on the beach, islands where the gibbons can live until a place in Borneo becomes available, a new socialization cage for macaques and various cages for confiscated animals. Also there are additional resources needed for investigations into the animal trade and release areas, new educational materials, audiovisual equipment for the educational facilities, a 4 wheel drive vehicle, a back up system with solar cells, additional medications, etc. The website of Tasikoki regularly states an updated wish list (www.tasikoki.org). This ranges from medications that are passed expiry date to old laptops to help researchers and students, to x-ray equipment. This takes many hundreds of thousands of Euros/Dollars but everything that comes in is very welcome, gifts in kind or in the form of financial contributions.
For more information and for volunteering opportunities look at the Tasikoki website: www.tasikoki.org
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