Tangkoko Conservation Education Programme: Learn from nature, act for nature!

The purpose of the Tangkoko Conservation Education Programme is to preserve the flora and fauna of Sulawesi, especially in the Tangkoko-Duasaudara-Batuangus Nature Reserves.

The Tangkoko-Duasudara Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi, Indonesia is home to the endemic crested macaque (Macaca nigra), whose natural habitat has dramatically declined within the last decades. Only 20% of the original population remains. Their threats include habitat destruction and illegal logging and hunting. The largest population, consisting of 2,000 individuals out of a total estimated 5,000, are found in Tangkoko.

Increasing awareness of the local population is essential to maintain harmony between the Tangkoko wildlife and surrounding human populations.  This requires long-term strategic vision to ensure that the next generation will take care of the reserve after us.

In January 2011, an agreement was made between the Macaca Nigra Project (a research project studying the biology of the crested macaques), Pacific Institute (which implements conservation programs to save the native species of North Sulawesi and their natural habitats), Regards d’Ailleurs (a French environmental education NGO), and the Department for the Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA) to implement a project dedicated to conservation education in the area of Tangkoko.  This project is aimed at pupils from primary to senior high school, aged from 8 to 16 years old.

Ito Wodi (from Batu Putih, Indonesia) and I, Mathilde Chanvin (from France), coordinate the project.  Each morning, we visit a classroom and teach lessons on environmental science and the flora and fauna of Tangkoko, primarily focused on the crested macaque and other threatened animals of Sulawesi.  We use different teaching methods and activities, such as games and films.

The project also takes the children on field trips to Tangkoko, accompanied by guides and researchers, so pupils can observe animals in the wild.  We also take the pupils to the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre, where they can gain a better understanding of the threats the animals face, many of which are due to illegal activities.  We implement various other education events, including open-air movie screenings in villages, in collaboration with the renowned macaque conservation programme Selamatkan Yaki.

Starting in Batu Putih as a pilot project in 2011, our activities have expanded to four other villages: Pinangunian, Kasawari, Winenet, and Sagerat, reaching a total of around 350 pupils and 50 teachers on an annual basis.  Our ultimate goal is to create a powerful, effective, and sustainable programme that will be continued by the local people in all the villages surrounding the reserves.

We are currently creating a booklet, consisting of exercises and illustrations by Elodie Philippe, a scientific illustrator.  This booklet will provide concrete education materials for teachers and pupils who wish to implement the lessons and activities that we have designed.  Once complete, we will make this book available for other primate conservation organisations through Primate Education Network’s Resource Library!

Every year, we evaluate the impact of our programme on the students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour through pre- and post-questionnaires.  After three years of promising results, we believe that we must continue our work on a regular and long-term basis in order to confirm that the project may have a positive effect on the protection of the macaques and their habitat through education.  As one Indonesian pupil summarizes:

“Since Tangkoko Conservation Education came to school, I know the crested macaques a lot better. It’s a rare, protected animal.  I like them a lot and want to protect them.”

With increased support, we are planning several promising projects for the 2013-14 school year: the addition of two villages (primary schools in Duasudara and Danowudu), construction of a new education centre, and new collaborative efforts with Selamatkan Yaki.

Contact the Tangkoko Conservation Education Programme or make a contribution to support their work.

This blog post was written by Mathilde Chanvin, President of the French NGO Regards d'Ailleurs, which implements environmental education activities in France and abroad.  In 2011, she established the Tangkoko Conservation Education Programme in Sulawesi.  Mathilde continues to supervise the programme on a volunteer basis.

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