Chased by the black macaques

After relaxing and diving in Bunaken we headed off  to see one of the worlds most endangered monkeys. Back in town we tried to catch a bus to a village next to Tankoko National park while it was raining heavily. We were lucky to get a bus just at the moment we arrived at the station. The shabby nightbus was full of smoke and from the roof water was dripping in passengers laps or heads. The bus was so full, that it was hard to sit and our huge backpacks didn’t make things easier. Packed like sardines we tried to relax some, while a smoking Indonesian tried to have a conversation with us. Fortunately Wilhelm learnt some basic Indonesian, which especially made things easier when negotiating and travelling around. Late in the evening, we arrived and checked in at Tarsiers Homestay, a little guest house with big but relatively dirty rooms (comparing to Bunaken!).

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The next morning we headed off to the National Park and on our way we were lucky to meet what we were expecting to see in the Park, the black crested macaques. This species is one of the 7 macaques species that are endemic to the island of Sulawesi. Since the 1980`s the population has declined by 90% and it is therefore categorized by the IUCN Red List as critically endangered. The two main threats are hunting and forest degradation. We were told that just two weeks before we arrived to the Nature Park, one of the dominant males was shot and later found by park rangers. Although hunting is illegal, the market demand of meat is still very high. Macaques are considered to be a delicacy and are consumed especially at holidays such as Christmas. One of the last remaining populations of the Macaca nigra is found in the Tangkoko Nature Reserve. This park has become therefore a hotspot for the conservation of this species and we were excited to see them in the wild.

“Since the 1980`s the population has declined by 90% and it is therefore categorized by the IUCN Red List as critically endangered.”

There are two groups of macaques living close to the village and we just happened upon the group called RAMBO 1. Impressed as we were, I wanted to take the camera out of my bag. Immediately, I was surrounded by several macaques. These monkeys live so close to humans, they know were food can be found. Even though tourists are encouraged not to feed the macaques, these rules are not always followed, not for the best of the macaques. They get used to people and do not fear to be surrounded by them. Therefore hunters might have an easy job…

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Plastic is present everywhere on this planet. Even in remote areas as this Nature Reserve you can find it. While plastic is produced rather quick it takes a long time to decompose and will last for hundreds of years. Tourists and local people throw plastic packages, cans or cigarette butts away and the curious macaques play with it or might even eat it. Some of the rangers select all the garbage they can find on their way through the park, which helps a little!

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There are a lot of things you can forget about a camera and you might also experienced that before. Either the memory card is not in or you forget to charge the battery or to bring the second battery.. Or you bring the wrong lenses.. So of course when we had the best day out in the National Park.. Wilhelm run out of battery so we just had my “sucky” camera with us :(. You might see it in the quality of the pictures…

“Forgetting to charge the camera batteries: SUCKS!”

However we want to share some pictures of the amazing creatures we have seen in the park in addition to the black macaques. Our guide had a unique eye for all the small things in the forest. Right at the beginning of one of our tours he spotted a flying lizard. It took us a while until the male showed his full beauty, but at the end we could see him flying. Also hornbills, kingfishers, vipers and a tarantula makes the park worth visiting!

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“Tarsiers are one if the smallest mammals in the world”

Hidden beneath the trees there is another amazing tiny animal to see: the Tarsier. Tarsiers are one of the smallest mammals in the world. With a body length of around 10 cm and a weight of 100 grams it is hard to find them. In addition to that, there are mostly active during the night, when they hunt for their prey, insects. So taking a climbs on them during the day is not very easy. However, the guides in the park know exactly where to find them, since the Tarsiers stick to their home trees usually.

 

After a few amazing days at the Tangkoko National Park (we must have looked very tired) a car stopped on our way back to our homestay. Two guys from England were asking us where we are heading to. While they gave us a lift we were chatting a little bit. Alin and his friend (we forgot the name) are Volunteers at the Tasikoki rescue center not very far from where we were located at the moment and they convinced us to visit them the next day. And so we did.

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