Sulawesi, one of the Indonesian islands, is a hot spot for illegal trade to China, Japan and Taiwan. Sun bears, gibbons, orangutans, tarsier and some other endangered animals are smuggled out of the country to be held as pets for example. Authorities would not be able to enforce existing laws without running rescue facilities. TASIKOKI, which is located close to the harbor of Bitung in the north of Sulawesi is one of these recues centers. It was set up by the Gibbon Foundation and with the help of local people and volunteers from all over the world, this station takes care of around 300 animals, which were rescued.
In the rainy and humid afternoon we were guided through the park facilities. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to see our so loved crested black macaques. They are supposed to be released to the wild soon, so as little contact with people as possible is of course the best! But there were other attractions such as the Cassowary and Wilhelm fall in love with this primeval looking bird.
Wilhelm has been working with wild Orangutans for quite a while now, so of course seeing the two Orangutans living in captivity their was a must for us. One of the two males was found on ship on which was on the way to China. Indonesian authorities discovered him and brought him to Tasikoki where he is living now. Unfortunately he is so used to humans and was captured when we was too young to be released again. During one of the several tours for local school kids, one girl was very happy to see this Orangutan. She told the people from the rescue center, that it looks just as the pet they have at home. This sounds strange of course but she was right, her parents also had an Orangutan at home.. However, the parents agreed to give the Orangutan to the rescue center where this male has more space to live…
Sulawesi has the fastest deforestation rate of all Indonesian islands. Due to the rapid population growth, illegal logging and at the custom to eat almost all wild animals a lot of wildlife ir threatened. On Sulawesi there are many unique animal and plant species that occur only on this island (so-called endemic species) which have to be protected. Tasikoko contributes with their work to protect and reintegrate them into the wilderness to the conserve the biodiversity of the island.
If you are interested to do some volunteer work, check out the homepage of Tasikoki!