All posts by SwaraOwa


The Ecosystem Services behind Mendolo’s Coffee

By Sidiq Harjanto, translated by T.T.Chan

The rufous piculet, perched on in Mendolo agro-forest coffee

Pekalongan Regency is one of the regions in Central Java Province known for coffee production. According to the Indonesian Plantation Statistics 2020-2022 data released by the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture’s Directorate General of Plantations, the output of robusta coffee from smallholders in Pekalongan was at 372 tonnes, involving a total of 1,650 farmers on 483 ha of land. That of arabica coffee, on the other hand, was at 100 tonnes from 857 farmers on 198 ha.

In terms of total volume, Pekalongan produces far less robusta beans than the neighbouring regencies of Temanggung (9,761 tonnes), Kudus (1,594 tonnes), and Banjarnegara (1,570 tonnes). This significant difference in figures is due in part to the area of land and number of farmers involved in growing coffee. However, Pekalongan performs quite well on productivity per hectare at 823 kg/ha, which is above the national average of 817 kg/ha. That said, these figures are still a far cry from Vietnam’s 2,300 kg/ha.

Mendolo is a village in Pekalongan where livelihoods largely depend on coffee produced through the agroforestry system. In order to enhance the value of coffee beans grown by local farmers, the Mendolo Young Farmers’ Association (PPM Mendolo) now grind these, which they market under the brand ‘Kopi Batir’. The Kopi Batir brand also offers roasting services to locals who want to enjoy coffee from their village’s plantations without having to do the roasting themselves.

Last year, this coffee business produced around 700 kgs of premium quality coffee, sold in the form of ground coffee or green beans. While this amount still pales in comparison to the volume of coffee beans from this village sold as cherries or sent out without sorting, the production capacity of this business continues to increase year by year.

In fact, Kopi Batir roasted more than one tonne of coffee beans in 2022. M. Ridholah is the man behind this remarkable initiative that has revived his fellow villagers’ interest in drinking their own coffee. Only equipped with a simple self-assembled roaster machine, he has helped to place Kopi Batir at the forefront of steering consumption trends away from factory coffee and towards locally grown coffee.

A Small Step in a Promising Direction

Creating the optimal coffee plantation requires knowledge of and experience in land preparation, fertilisation, pruning, pest control and a well-thought-out harvesting process. In addition, coffee growers need to understand the ways in which their crop interacts with the natural environment – how their productivity could be influenced by ecosystem services, for example.

On 18 March 2023, as part of our ‘Mendolo Coffee Meet’ event, SwaraOwa/Owa Coffee invited PPM Mendolo and representatives of coffee growers to work out how coffee cultivation in Mendolo could be done in a way that reflects greater ecological awareness. Our hope was to come up with a set of improved practices that would allow the natural environment to thrive and provide farmers with ecosystem services in order to boost their income.

a tailor foraging for food on a flowering coffee tree

Biodiversity is an integral part of agroforestry plantations and has the potential to be a positive influence on the crops grown there. Chain-Guadarrama et al., in a 2019 article ‘Ecosystem services by birds and bees to coffee in a changing climate: A review of coffee berry borer control and pollination‘, state that birds and bees are two types of fauna that play a key role in coffee cultivation. Many bird species prey on insects and are therefore indispensable as ecological pest-control agents. Remove these birds and the insect population could explode, resulting in direct losses for farmers.

To ensure that birds can fulfil their role in the ecosystem, they must first be protected and allowed to live freely in the wild. Next, birds also need suitable habitat. Agroforestry or intercropping could provide this as they ensure that a variety of vegetation layers and types are present, thereby increasing opportunities for birds to find food and places to nest.

beekeeping in the agro-forest coffee is perfect combination in Mendolo

wildlife photography, as a medium to increase appreciation of biodiversity in Mendolo Agro-forest

Bees, on the other hand, help to pollinate coffee plants. Robusta coffee requires cross pollination, which is done by the wind and insects. Arabica coffee differs in being able to self-pollinate, but insect-mediated pollination has been proven to increase the quality and quantity of the crop. Therefore, bees have the potential to boost Arabica coffee yields.

There are numerous species of bee worldwide, including dozens of types of honey bee, hundreds of stingless bees (klancèng), and thousands of solitary bees. Each type has its own distribution and occupies different habitats. Which species of bees are beneficial for coffee and what type of habitat they need are issues that still require a lot of research.

Fully leveraging various bee species as pollinating agents necessitates the protection of their habitat, avoiding the use of pesticides and integrating beekeeping into spaces used for agriculture. In Mendolo, stingless bee husbandry has been practised since 2017. Aside from producing honey that could generate more income for locals, beekeeping in Mendolo also allows farmers to reap the benefits of the ecosystem services provided by bees, which both increase agricultural productivity and improve the sustainability of the forest.

Although the benefits agriculture stands to gain from ecosystem services are undeniable, our focus group discussions have revealed that much hard work is still needed to convince farmers to adopt bird and bee-friendly practices. More research needs to be done on the role of birds in keeping agricultural pest populations under control, and how these ecological services can best be harnessed. Likewise with bee pollination services, the ideal way of integrating beekeeping with agroforestry still remains to be found.

PPM Mendolo will spearhead participatory research to explore the roles of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Mendolo agroforestry system. They will also continue spreading awareness about the ecological roles of birds and bees. Given the community’s reliance on agriculture, Mendolo needs to be encouraged to become a village that cares about biodiversity. For this to be achieved, Mendolo and villages like it need to first have comprehensive data on their biodiversity.

We sincerely applaud PPM Mendolo for their pioneering work in pushing for innovation in agroforestry and raising awareness of how important biodiversity is to the local community. At our ‘Mendolo Coffee Meet’ event, SwaraOwa presented a roasting machine with a capacity of 1 kg to Batir Coffee. It was our token of appreciation to them for their hard work in developing coffee delights in Mendolo, as well as to PPM Mendolo for their efforts to encourage conservation in the village, including of the Javan gibbon and Javan slow loris.



The Mendolo Coffee Meet and the Role of Women in the Coffee Tradition

By Sidiq Harjanto, translated by T.T. Chan

traditional coffee processing in Mendolo

On 18 and 19 March 2023, SwaraOwa/ KopiOwa partnered with PPM Mendolo to organise the ‘Mendolo Coffee Meet’ event. We had three items on our agenda – roasting coffee together, discussing the relevance of biodiversity to women involved in coffee agroforestry in Mendolo Village, and taking local children birdwatching. The first two are the subject of this post.

On the first day of the event, we invited women to explain the nitty-gritty of coffee-related customs in Mendolo, particularly the art of coffee roasting. We likewise engaged women of different ages in discussions about the role women in the village have to play in coffee agroforestry.

Various methods of roasting coffee

Traditional coffee roasting in Mendolo

Coffee has become an integral part of the Mendolo community’s fabric. For locals, coffee is a constantly recurring theme in daily life, being drunk in the morning before they head to the plantations and again in the evening when gathering with family. There is even a special type of coffee called “kopi jembawuk” that is reserved for specific rituals. This coffee is brewed with coconut milk and sweetened with palm sugar.

In recent times, coffee has evolved into a commodity not only consumed locally by the Mendolo community, but also sold beyond the village.

In Mendolo, everyone has their own taste in coffee. While some villagers enjoy plain coffee, others prefer further ingredients being added to their beans during the roasting process. The most common of these ingredients is white rice, as it is said that adding it helps reduce the bitterness of dark roasted coffee beans.

Some locals also add slices of coconut during roasting in a process known locally as ‘nglamir’. Its fans claim that coconut slices bring out a savoury taste in the beans. However, coconut slices are not as commonly used as rice, as the former makes the coffee powder less durable and more prone to turning rancid. For this reason, mixing coconut with coffee is usually done only on special occasions.

The tools used for coffee roasting are relatively simple, comprising a clay or metal pan, a stirring rod or spatula, a sieve and a wooden or gas stove. To start off the roasting process, the pan is heated for about five minutes. Once it is hot enough, approximately 500 g of raw coffee beans are added in, and then stirred continuously using the stirring rod or spatula.

Throughout, these coffee-roasting women closely observe every change in colour, shape and aroma that the coffee beans undergo. As soon as the beans crack and take on a brownish hue, they turn down the heat. The coffee is stirred continuously for as long as it takes to yield the taste that best suits each individual’s preferences. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. Once fully roasted, the coffee is cooled off on a sieve.  The next step is grinding. It involves using a mortar and pestle to crush the beans, which are then passed through a sieve to obtain relatively fine coffee powder.

The Role of Women in the Coffee Tradition

Activities Male Female Equipment

Coffee Land management activities

Land preparation +++ + Hue, sickle
Making plating hole +++ + Hue, wooden for making hole
Coffee planting +++ + Hue
Weeding +++ ++ Sickle, hue
Pruning +++
Grafting +++ Grafter knife
Harvesting ++ ++ bags

Post harvest activities

Coffee pulping ++ ++ Pulper, basket
Drying + +++ Drying sheet
Hulling ++ ++ Rice mill ( Male), Pounder (Female)
Coffee bean sortation +++ Round Bamboo Tray
Coffee Roasting +++ Frying pan, stove, tray
Coffee Pounding +++ Pounder, sieve, basket

Gender contribution in the coffee management chain

In his 1982 book Gender, Ivan Illich argues that the term ‘gender’ does not only denote the difference in sex between males and females, but also refers to the various differences in their social life. These differences include the types of work they do, the tools they employ, their language use and understanding of space-time.

Our focus group discussions revealed that while men and women contribute roughly equally to the coffee supply chain in Mendolo, their roles in it differ noticeably. For instance, men tend to be more involved in managing the coffee plantations, while women play a larger role in post-harvest activities typically carried out around their homes.

Some tasks are gender-specific, such as pruning and grafting, which have traditionally been done only by men. On the other hand, coffee roasting is a skilled role mainly reserved for women, who roast coffee mainly for their own family’s needs and occasionally also those of their neighbours.

Just as Illich stated, differences in the type of work done by each gender imply differences in tools. In this vein, the distinct roles of each gender in the coffee supply chain result in each gender having a different set of tools. Grafting knives are tools exclusively used by men, while mortar and pestle are closely associated with women.

As coffee roasting is a skill specific to the women of the community, we were eager to explore it further. It was noteworthy that among the women present, those who possessed the skill were almost all above 40 years of age.

As the skill is no longer being acquired by the younger generation, Mendolo’s tradition of coffee roasting may soon disappear with the women at our event. To make matters worse, our changing times have also seen a rapidly growing preference to buy factory-packaged coffee. We therefore need to act fast if we are not to lose the art of coffee roasting that Mendolo’s womenfolk are such consummate masters of.

Returning to Illich’s perspective, each gender complements the other in their different roles; the maintenance of everybody’s way of life depends on mutual reciprocity between the genders. It is crucial to realise this so that the balance of roles is perpetuated and women do not experience discriminatory treatment.

Presidential Decree No. 29 of 2000 on Mainstreaming Gender in National Development has put gender issues and upholding the dignity of women firmly on Indonesia’s national agenda.

Just as gender issues are crucial to Indonesia’s national development, so too the role of women needs to be strengthened in efforts to conserve nature. Many studies have in fact shown that involvement of women increases the success rate of conservation initiatives.

Now how do we find the thread that links greater agency for women to the conservation of Javan gibbons and their forests that are also home to various other wildlife? In Mendolo, SwaraOwa endeavours to engage local women through programmes focussing on local food production and stingless bee husbandry. We believe that it is only when women are closely involved in local food production and have alternative sources of income that the pressure human communities exert on forests can be reduced. In other words, developing sustainable livelihoods for women and equipping them with knowledge about forests is key to the success of conservation.

This field report, as part of swaraowa’s coffee and primate conservation project 2023, supported by Mandai Nature , Fortwayne Children’s Zoo and Ostrava Zoo.



Wildlife monitoring in the forests of Petungkriyono and Lebakbarang

By Kurnia Ahmaddin, translated by T.T Chan

Black Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas) spotted on camera trap

The biodiversity of Petungkriyono and Lebakbarang sub-districts in the southern portion of Pekalongan Regency is very special as this area is home to both lowland and montane tropical forest. Contained within a mountain range, the high levels of rainfall in this area nourish its forests and contribute to its hydrological importance. It is therefore no coincidence that this part of Pekalongan boasts excellent habitat for the Javan gibbon (Widyastuti et al., 2020) and is in fact inhabited by approximately 800-1000 individuals (Setiawan et al., 2012).

In order to better conserve this biodiversity, the Petungkriyono Collaborative Forest Management Forum was initiated in 2018 and obtained a decree from the Governor of Central Java Province. One of SwaraOwa’s contributions as a member of this Forum is to monitor the wildlife of the forests in Petungkriyono and neighbouring sub-districts, which all form part of the same ecological landscape.

One such monitoring project of ours that involved the local community was the Javan blue-banded kingfisher survey in the Sengkarang watershed.  Following that, we also collected data on five different plant and animal taxa from mid-January to mid-March 2023. This was done in collaboration with PPM Mendolo (the Mendolo Young Farmers’ Association), the Indonesian Dragonfly Society (IDS) and Biolaska UIN Sunan Kalijaga. The survey turned up 131 species of butterfly, 27 species of dragonfly, 65 species of orchid, 36 species of reptile and amphibian, and 97 species of birds. In addition, the members of PPM Mendolo conducted routine surveys from late August 2021 to February 2023, identifying 112 bird species in total. On top of this data, they also made more detailed observations of over 50 bird and five Javanese primate species.

For the local Javan gibbon population in particular, we have also involved government agencies in a survey of the forest in Sokokembang, a village in Petungkriyono. This survey took place from 11 to 14 February 2023, and was conducted together with the Central Java branch of Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam (BKSDA, the Indonesian natural resources authority), CDK Wilayah 4 (part of the Indonesian forestry agency Central Java Province), and Perhutani (the Indonesian state forestry enterprise).

Camera traps and passive sound recorders

Unfortunately, relying solely on observation data is not ideal because such data can only be collected when researchers are in the field. In an effort to overcome this limitation and expand the scope of our monitoring, we installed camera traps and sound recording devices. Both types of equipment are placed in the forest for a certain duration, where they capture data automatically. Supported by Mandai Nature , Fortwayne Children’s Zoo and Chances for Nature as donor partners of SwaraOwa, 14 camera trap points and 12 passive sound recording points have been set up in the Sokokembang and Mendolo forests in the seven months since September 2022.

During this time, we installed both types of equipment for periods ranging from 10 to 36 days in order to collect approximately one month’s worth of data during the wet season. So far, the camera traps have recorded Javan leopard, Southern red muntjac and wild pigs. Our passive sound recorders also show that in the remaining forests in Lebakbarang, Javan gibbon can be clearly heard calling even at altitudes beyond 1000 m above sea level. All in all, these encounters confirm that the forests of this region still offer suitable habitat for these large mammals.

Collaborative wildlife monitoring team

Threats to the wildlife of Pekalongan Regency’s forests

While installing our equipment and surveying the forest, we came across signs that bird poachers were still active there. In fact, we know almost all insectivorous birds to be targets of such poachers. By removing integral components of the local ecosystem, poaching risks upsetting the natural balance in the forest. In this case, the loss of these insect-eating birds will likely lead to increased numbers of insect pests. In the worst-case scenario, this could in turn cause insect infestations that have disastrous consequences for local people.

Another problem concerns Long-tailed macaques and wild pigs. Although they are a minority, there are members of the local community who regard these species as pests to be killed. If left unchecked, such hunting may unbalance the food chain and lead to predators that normally feed on these mammals coming into conflict with people. Therefore, it is our hope that hunting will be contained.

The Petungkriyono Collaborative Forest Management Forum has played a large role in ensuring that the findings of our monitoring work are effectively communicated to the various stakeholders in this region, especially policymakers.

It would not be a stretch to say that the protection of local biodiversity crucially hinges on two factors – one, on our monitoring work continuing to be carried out by an adequate number of field personnel and two, on any findings being communicated and acted on swiftly. There are examples that very clearly show this. One involves a report of ‘ghost nets’ from some time ago. The term describes nets left by bird hunters in the forest, many still spread out. They pose a grave danger to wildlife, as many species of birds and flying mammals die entangled in these nets. The nets were taken down by forum members shortly after the report was received, hence averting further damage. The second example is that of an injured leopard in the Kroyakan forest area. Not long after it was reported on 25 February 2023, BKSDA and Perhutani were on the scene and promptly rescued the leopard.


Siripok Bilou : Mentawai Gibbon Friends

by Arif Setiawan

Bilou (Hylobates klossii) and the Mentawai Islands since the first time I breath the air on Sikerei’s land in 2010, have their own charm always to re-visit, not just to see but have to continue to contribute to participating in conservation efforts, in a modern cultural wave that rolls forge these islands on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

Since the first time Bilou’s research activities in the Mentawai have become an identity, my colleagues  and I in South Siberut, especially the Malinggai Uma ( a long house) Mentawai team, have at least been known for Bilou’s conservation activities, so we met many people in Mentawai villages. called us by the name of Si Bilou. This nickname has now stuck and has finally made us proud of what we have done.

In Mentawai culture, if there are people from outside the tribe who can then be accepted and become part of the tribe, there is the term “siripok”, which means more or less like a friend, close friend. I, Pak Ismail, and Dami  (both of them from one of the largest clans in Mentawai) seem to have gone through various dynamics since the first time we met them more than 13 years ago. Starting from research and survey activities in the Mentawai Islands, they are the spearhead, not just being guides, pompong drivers, and language translators, without them current activities would not be what they are today, they are lead Malinggai Uma, a local community organization based on cultural activities, and long time workin in the gibbon related activities, this organization have their own role to conserve nature as part of their cultural identity.

Togather with malinggai Uma team, we have done activities to mainstream the value of Mentawai nature and culture. Targeted younger generation and educators and teachers series of books and all availabe online for purchase, and training activities have done already since 2017. Mentawai primate field guide book, Mentawai Bird Guide Book, we created also quartet game for education purposes.

Series of training was done for the teachers in Mentawai with the aims to : 1. Introduce to the current generation of local teachers of Mentawai culture the local flora and fauna, especially our primate species;2. Enable teachers of Mentawai culture to spread the conservation message to their students; 3. Allow teachers to inspire the next generation to contribute to conservation at a local level; 4.Bring together Mentawai biodiversity and cultural conservation activists.

Siripok bilou has become a new spirit for us, which complements Mentawai nature conservation efforts, especially primate species at the grassroots level. The calling of the bilou then becomes a source of pride that we have done something for Bilou the Mentawai gibbon.

We tried to visualize this bilou philosophy , based on the pictures at Uma Malinggai where there is a pair of bilou holding hands. Reading this picture, one can see that Bilou is very close to daily life in Siberut, many research results have stated that gibbons are primates who always live in pairs, the size of the arms that are longer than the body is also clearly depicted in the ornaments at the Uma .

Keep up with Mentawai field works, of swaraowa and Malinggai , with #siripokbilou on social media. Apart from continuing to encourage capacity building for the Uma malinggai team, this siripok bilou logo is a medium to introduce the gibbons, nature and native Mentawai culture, hopefully it will continue to be sustainable.

To support activities in the Mentawai, we made a Siripok Bilou calendar, t-shirt and goodybags which was sold at a price of 100 thousand, you get 1 pack of Owa bilou coffee. For orders, please contact IG @swaraowa or @owacoffee or for those in Mentawai, you can contact Malinggai Uma in Puro2 hamlet, Muntai village, South Siberut. Other previous published books and mentawai biodviersity posters also can be purchased, shipped worldwide through contact us at swaraowa at

This year we the activities in Uma received more support fund from Arcus Foundation through great ape and gibbon program grant, we will continue activities in the 3rd teacher training in Siberut, bring them in the field to learn about mentawai nature and culture. Gibbon spotting and bird watching will be main field lesson in the training event. Coming soon for the event in this end of March 2023.


The richness of Mendolo Village – Durians and biodiversity

By Sidiq Harjanto & Kurnia Ahmadin

Durian cultivars in Mendolo ( Foto Ikmal Biolaska)

We believe that a sustainable economy is key to safeguarding the forest habitat of the Javan gibbon. This is why SwaraOwa have made shade coffee (coffee that grows under the natural shade of forest trees), palm sugar and beekeeping ‘core businesses’ of ours. In this, our primary aim is to promote sustainable economic growth for the communities living around the forests inhabited by the Javan gibbon. If we manage to develop these businesses in line with forest conservation efforts, we will demonstrate that it is possible to improve the welfare of local communities without over-exploiting our forests.

In Mendolo Village, we are close partners with the Mendolo Young Farmers Association (PPM Mendolo), who are the driving force for nature conservation in their village. As the younger generation there mostly still practice farming, PPM Mendolo functions as an incubator for them to launch innovative projects at a local level.

Tasting the richness of Mendolo’s durians

Durian has long been a sought-after commodity in Mendolo Village. With its superior taste, Mendolo’s durians also form one of the main pillars of the local economy. However, because this village is quite hard to reach, its durians are not well known among lovers of this tropical fruit.

And so the PPM youth had the idea of transforming their village into an attraction where visitors can enjoy local durian directly at its source. Developing tourism will also boost Mendolo’s reputation as the home of quality durian.

On 15 January 2023, PPM Mendolo invited Biolaska (Students of Biology at UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta, IDS (Indonesia Dragonfly Society), and SwaraOwa to research the potential of durians from Mendolo Village. We inventoried and did taste profiling on durians grown by local farmers. Our aim is to produce a catalogue of durian varieties in Mendolo that will most certainly be of use to durian enthusiasts seeking to explore the richness of these durians that are Mendolo’s very own.

From a sample of 24 local durian varieties, we identified different physical and taste characteristics. Fruit shape ranges from perfectly round, to ovoid, to wavy, all the way to pear-shaped. Husk colours include green, yellow and brown. The fruit itself also varies in colour, from white to yellowish white  yellow. In terms of fruit taste, the profiles include sweet, creamy, alcoholic, slightly bitter, and sticky rice. The thickness of the fruit flesh is another variable characteristic.

During our time there, everybody was given a chance to experience ngramban, an activity where food plants growing wild in the forest are collected and then cooked for dinner. That night, we served up no less than 18 dishes. This is a valuable tradition, as preparing food from locally sourced natural ingredients instils in the village community an appreciation for the various wild plants and animals in their surroundings.

The wildlife found in the forests nearby also offers the potential for ecotourism. Wildlife watching has in fact vastly gained in popularity in recent years. In this connection, PPM Mendolo have actively collected data on the avifauna in and around the village, and monitored primates such as the Javan gibbon, Javan langur and Javan slow loris.

Sustainable growth for Mendolo

Our projects in Mendolo were not solely conceptualised as an alternative livelihood for the community, but also as a catalyst for village development. Law No. 6/2014 on Villages has brought about a paradigm shift, with the focus moving away from growing villages to villages growing. This puts villagers in the driver’s seat where village development is concerned. They are irreplaceable with their intimate knowledge of local conditions and history, and are our greatest hope in realising a development trajectory in line with sustainable principles.

Each village is unique in its potential for development. Getting villagers, especially the younger generation, acquainted with their biodiversity and various types of produce, will help spread awareness of how humans can enjoy tangible benefits from working in harmony with nature.

As a simple example, durian plantations do not automatically yield abundant fruit. In order to produce a good crop, farmers need wild birds to provide pest control services, as well as bats to do pollination. If they are made aware of this, the community will naturally want to protect the ecosystem to consistently reap a good durian harvest.

Biodiversity is Indonesia’s greatest asset and certainly also its future, but we need to preserve and manage it properly. For this to work, we must take care of diversity at the species, genetic and ecosystem level. The diversity of durian varieties in Mendolo is an example of diversity management at the genetic level. This diversity can be transformed into capital to develop Indonesia if more people come to appreciate the value of having such a broad range of durian flavours.


Javan gibbon: strengthening conservation networks at grassroot level

Javan gibbon ( Hylobates moloch)

In November-December 2022 SwaraOwa received visits from parties who have so far fully supported the development of the Javan gibbon conservation program in Central Java, especially Pekalongan Regency.

Mandai Nature representative from Singapore, visited the gibbon habitat November 18-22 2022, Mandai Nature is the new name of the Institution that previously  namely Wildlife Reserve Singapore which has supported the swaraowa’s program since 2014, through the Coffee and Primate Conservation project. In 2022 swaraowa also collaborated with Chance for Nature ( CfN) from Germany which also supports programs that have been running through the gibbon coffee project and provided new input for monitoring the Javan gibbon and became a guest speaker at the annual event sokokembang  primate field course  on 12-15 December 2022 .

Mandai team and Swaraowa team, at Kopi Owa Sokokembang

Special guests from the two institutions visited to see first-hand the programs that have been developed so far. At the gibbon coffee production house in Yogyakarta, the headquartered organization of the gibbon coffee team introduces commodities produced through the project, especially coffee which has been sent to Singapore every year since 2016. Introducing the team and introducing coffee characters from several locations as well as describing the taste of each of these coffees became the main activity in Yogyakarta.

Turning to the field, in Sokokembang we stayed at the swaraowa field station, which had been built and prepared to support field activities, where we could see directly the Robusta shade grown coffee production site, which is managed together with the residents. Part of the production of palm sugar can also be witnessed directly at the Swaraowa field station.

meet the Beekeeper at Tembelan village

Observing the primates in Sokokembang is of course special, because these are the primates that have linked Swaraowa . All primates in this area can be found directly, Javan langurs, gibbons, leaf monkeys and long-tailed macaques can all be found directly by these special guests without having to enter the forest but observing along the road from Kroyakan to Sokokembang.

Christian from Chance for Nature with Mendolo officials

Interact directly with people from Petungkriyono and Lebakbarang who have been directly involved in the development of forest commodity activities and conservation. Visiting Tlogohendro to see Arabica coffee production and nursery locations, and also see beekeeping in the village of Kayupuring Setipis, where native bees (Apis cerana) are developed for economic value bee honey.

Dirk Meyer (CfN) with participants of primate field course Sokokembang

In Mendolo Village, met with village officials and saw the beekeeping activities that have been developed since 2017 and supported by funding from Mandai Nature.

The visits of these supporting partners not only strengthen communication between swaraowa and the sponsors, but also increase self-confidence and pride in what the people around the forest have, because what has been done so far has also been appreciated by people from abroad. What’s more, this visit will at least strengthen the conservation narrative that has been initiated, to amplify and promote activities from the natural habitat of Indonesian primates, to the world.


Written by Arif Setiawan


The 9th Sokokembang Primate Field Course

all participants and guest experts MSP 2022, infront of SwaraOwa Field Station

The 9th Primate Survey Method Training (MSP) event has just been completed ,were successfully held on 12-15 Deember 2022, in Sokokembang,  and is the closing of Swaraowa’s activities in 2022. The primate survey method training activity, known as MSP, aims to increase capacity and encourage the emergence of primate researchers and  conservationist from the younger generation, as well as building a network of primate researchers.

As in previous years, MSP 2022 is collaborating with KP3 Primata, Forestation Faculty of Forestry, Gadjah Mada University, who is longtime patner organizer, which is different from previous MSPs this year we are holding in December, and the MSP event course content is also more focused on the gibbon population estimate .

field practice for gibbon triangulation survey and placement pasive voice recorder

The series of events began with the announcement of registration to the selection of participants, where 25 applicants , we selected based on the motivation letters and CVs of each prospective participant, until finally 10 participants were selected. all these participants are fully funded for their transport, food  and accomodation during in the field. This year’s participants are students who have or are currently doing primate research and are also non-governmental organizations.

classroom activities, Adin (swaraowa) with pasive voice recorder setting up introduction

photo group field practice MSP 2022

The MSP 2022, with the concept of one day of basic theory in classroom  and two practical days of data collection for the purpose of estimating primate populations presented by course tutor Salmah Widyastuti, a doctoral student from IPB who is also an alumni of MSP 2017, 2018. For the vocal count triangulation method this year too introduced the ASCR (Acoustic Spatial Capture-Recapture) analysis method for estimating gibbon density based on vocalization. The swaraOwa team itself had 2 speakers who provided material, namely Kurnia Ahmaddin who introduced the use of passive recording devices for monitoring based on sound, and Nur Aoliya who introduced bioacoustics analysis of the Javan gibbon calls.

There were two guest speakers that we invited to the MSP 2022 event,  Dirk Meyer from Chance for Nature Germany, who also shared his experiences on using bioacoustics for the conservation of leaf-eating monkeys from the genus Presbytis and Indira Nurul Qomariah from the Center for Orangutan Protection who shared experience on cyber campaigns for the conservation of Indonesian primates.

Participants who were divided into 3 groups practiced the vocal count method for 2 days and also installed passive recording devices at predetermined observation points (Listening Points ). The practice of data collection and installation and data analysis was carried out on the second day, with the guidance of the presenters and guest speakers.

Presentation of research results and writing of reports on observations concluded the 4-day MSP 2022 activities in the Sokokembang forest. There is a selection of the best chosen based on the results of writing reports and presentations by participants.

The Sokokembang field course  was held thanks to the support from Fortwayne Children’s Zoo, Ostrava Zoo, Chance for Nature, and Kopi Owa.

Written by : Arif Setiawan


SwaraOwa at the 8th Asian Primate Symposium, Vietnam

The first international primate conference held in Asia since the Covid-19 pandemic, the 8th edition of the Asian Primate Symposium took place at the Forestry Faculty of the Vietnam National University in Hanoi.

Word that the event was going to happen first went out in August 2022 and sparked some excitement on social media. The organisers hoped to attract a sizeable number of delegates from Indonesia, the single Asian country with the most primate species. I was therefore honoured to be able to represent Indonesia as a member of the scientific committee on this occasion. On behalf of SwaraOwa I and Aoliya will present and give talks in the symposium.

Vietnam has 24 species of primates, including a slow loris (Lorisidae), six species of crested gibbon belonging to the genus Nomascus, various monkeys (Cercopithecidae) and strikingly coloured langurs (Colobinae). Unfortunately, almost 90% of the primate species in Vietnam are on the verge of extinction, and 10 of these are already critically endangered.

The tragedy that was the Vietnam War has left an indelible mark on Vietnam’s culture and geopolitics that still has consequences for its biodiversity. Vietnam is one of the foremost biodiversity hotspots in Southeast Asia, but is at the same time a global centre for the illegal wildlife trade. Conservationists in Vietnam certainly have a lot on their plates as a result. Visiting Vietnam gave me an opportunity to observe first-hand how initiatives to protect nature, especially these primate species, are unfolding.

When we received the invitation to this symposium, we immediately started making plans for primate watching. Squeezing in a visit to Cat Tien National Park – or Cat Tien NP for short – before the conference was a very tempting prospect indeed. Located in southern Vietnam, it is famous for being home to the Yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabrielle) and the Black-shanked douc (Pygathrix nigripes).

An interesting fact about Cat Tien NP is that its logo is a Javan rhinoceros. Indeed, the subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus once lived in Vietnam. Sadly though, the last known specimen was found dead by the authorities in 2010. The rhino is known to have been shot by poachers with its horn missing, rhino horn being one of the ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine.

From Ho Chi Minh airport, the taxi ride to Cat Tien National Park took approximately 4 hours. Entry to the national park cost only 60,000 VND (Rp. 38,000), very affordable in comparison to Indonesia. Along the way, we had to cross a river surrounded by wetlands on one of the boats on standby from 7 am to 7 pm. For gibbon observation, Cat Tien NP charges a separate fee of 200,000 VND, because you need to be accompanied by park staff and spend the night there in order to set off at 4.30am the next day, when the gibbons usually make their morning calls. Upon hearing the gibbons call, the guide will try and determine where they are calling from and lead you towards that location. It is very difficult to spot gibbons when it is light, as they would usually have retreated into the dense upper canopy by then and there are no ideal locations from which to observe them there.

The Black Shanked Douc Langur

Although hiring a guide made a lot of sense, we ultimately chose to explore the park on our own. The roads here are very good and easily traversible on a vehicle, with only tourists being allowed to use them.

Our first encounter with a Vietnamese primate was with the Black-shanked douc, a type of langur the size of our Proboscis monkey in Indonesia. Its pelage is a combination of black and white, and its thighs a glossy black. This species is critically endangered. Like langurs in general which eat leaves, when we encounter them they are usually at rest, digesting the leaves they had eaten. There were two troops that we saw that morning, and they seemed quite habituated to the visitors.

Macaca fascicularis

On the second day we got around using bicycles we rented at the park office. The bike paths were quite well kept, but the bikes not in top condition considering the route was more than 9 km long. Observing while riding a bicycle is also not like walking where you can listen out for every rustle in the trees. But on a bike you can cover huge distances and see the various types of habitats in Cat Tien. We managed to find one troop of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), one of macaques (Macaca leonina) and one of doucs on this day.

The symposium

There is a rather well developed culture of conservation and primate research in Vietnam, as seen from the many Vietnamese primatologists who were involved in organising the event, as well as the number of international conservation organisations supporting it. The symposium officially commenced on 14 November 2022, in the auditorium of the Vietnam National University’s Forestry Faculty. It opened with a plenary talk by Christian Roos about the diversity and genetic history of Asian primate species.

I myself gave a presentation at one of the sessions on ‘Human – Nonhuman primate interaction and conflict’ alongside four other presenters. An abstract of my presentation, entitled ‘The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic: Learning from the story of Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) conservation’, can be found here[].

There was likewise an interesting session on the use of thermal drones to survey and monitor primate populations in Cat Tien National Park. Commercial drones available on the market are deployed at night, when primates are usually at rest and the surrounding temperatures are cooler as compared to during the day, so that the body heat of primates can be more easily detected by the camera sensor.

I chaired a session  on ‘Human – Nonhuman primate interactions and conflicts’ with four presenters, incidentally all representing Indonesian organisations. The first was Octaviana Sawitri from the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), who discussed human – orangutan conflict in East Kalimantan. then our team, SwaraOwa’s Nur Aoliya then presented a solution to primates in Petungkriyono accidentally getting electrocuted. The third presenter was Jochen Menner. From Germany, he is works for Prigen Conservation Breeding Ark, Taman Safari, and gave a talk about the online trade in Indonesian primates. And the last talk came from Indira Nurul Qomariah from COP, who also discussed the illegal primate trade in Indonesia.

Nomascus gabrielle

Day two, 15 November 2022, saw us go on a field trip to Chuc Phuong National Park, approximately four hours away by bus. All conference participants joined in. This was in fact my second time in Chuc Phuong. It was great to visit the primate rehabilitation center there again, and also to see various other endangered species. The EPRC was founded in 1993, with the aims to help rehabilitation and rescue center for the illegal primate traded. They will be released if the conditions in the wild are suitable. Among the primates at the EPRC are douc langurs and langurs, which are very attractive. You can imagine that they would stand out even more in their natural habitat, some of which are in inaccessible areas such as karst formations.

Nomascus siki

There is also a centre for the rehabilitation and conservation of reptiles such as turtles and other mammals like pangolins and small carnivores. Some of these facilities are used for visitor education, where the staff and keepers explain their efforts to save the lives of these native animals. Sadly however, as I said at the beginning, Vietnam is a global hub for the illegal animal trade, so releasing these animals back into the wild could cause their downfall because they will likely be caught again and eaten or traded.

The two species of gibbons that I encountered, the Yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabrielle) and the Southern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus siki), were in forests near the rehabilitation centre. Because they were outside the cages, they looked like they were in their natural habitat.

After Chuc Phuong, we went to Van Long Nature Reserve to do primate watching in the iconic wetland karst area, where we hoped to find more doucs. Unfortunately, it was pouring when we arrived there and the event had to be cancelled. Quite a shame because this place was renowned as the most visited primate watching destination in Vietnam before the pandemic. This marked the end of my time at the symposium in Vietnam and I returned to Indonesia the next morning.

Our thanks go to the symposium committee, especially the Three Monkey Wildlife Sanctuary. I would also like to thank IUCN SSA  and Fortwayne Children’s Zoo for sponsoring my attendance in the symposium . The next edition of the Asian Primate Symposium in 2024 is likely to be held in Indonesia. See you there!

Written by Arif Setiawan, translated by T.T Chan



Niche ecotourism and the Natuna Island Leaf Monkey

Kekah Natuna (Presbytis natunae)

A primate watching expedition in September 2022 took us to the northern tip of the Indonesian archipelago, to a place called the Natuna Islands. SwaraOwa and Natuna go back all the way to November 2020, when we made our first trip there. This time, we set off for Natuna via Pontianak because there happened to be activities in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, from which we travelled on to Batam. The flight from Batam to Natuna lasted around 1 h 45 min. Finally, at 4.20pm on 8 September 2022 I set foot on Natuna and breathed the fresh air of the islands that I had long dreamt of visiting for the Natuna Island leaf monkey (Presbytis natunae), named Kekah locally. We headed for Mekar Jaya Village, in Bunguran Barat District. Bang Ahdiani, a local hero who played a crucial role in advocating the conservation of native Natuna primates, was expecting us. Bang Ahdiani first took us to visit one of the natural wonders of Natuna, an extraordinarily large outcrop of granite set against a spectacular coastal backdrop. It is a thing of such beauty that words cannot do it justice.

geological history of Natuna Island

This granite outcrop is a throwback to the Jurassic period about 200 million years ago, when, according to geological research, the Natuna Islands were formed by the collision between the Indian Ocean crust and the Sunda shelf. The Natuna Islands are therefore a  valuable repository of geological information and biodiversity that must be preserved for future generations.

The Kekah Natuna can probably trace its origins back to a period approximately 6,000 to 20,000 years ago, when most of Southeast Asia was still a contiguous landmass called Sundaland. Natuna is located near the ancient Molengraaff river system that flowed through part of Sundaland. This river system is named after the geologist and natural explorer Gustaaf Frederik Molengraaff from the Netherlands who studied Sundaland’s ancient rivers in the 1800s. The area was one of the planet’s foremost biodiversity hotspots at that time, but it was significantly affected by changes in sea levels and the global climate.

This graphic shows how most of Sundaland became submerged over time:

source :

It is thought that after the dinosaurs became extinct, mammals, including types of leaf-eating monkeys (of which the  Kekah Natuna  is one), spread from the Asian mainland onto the vast plains of Sundaland that stretched as far as Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra. Over a period of two million years, as sea levels rose and fell and the vegetation in the region underwent dramatic changes, primates started diversifying into new species to exploit the new opportunities that emerged. This applies especially to the Presbytis leaf-eating monkeys  or surili’s of Sundaland, now largely underwater and separated into Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan. Today, various species of Presbytis monkey are found on Natuna, Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and surrounding small islands such as Bintan, Singapore, and parts of peninsular Malaysia. The various species are distinguishable by differences in morphology, from their hair colour, body size, skull shape voice, and even genetically.

Every new primate seen alive in its natural habitat counts as a ‘lifer’ for primate observers and is proudly added to their ‘life lists’. That day, I was privileged enough to see the Kekah Natuna for the first time, a lifer for me!

We encountered our first Kekah– a troop of around three individuals – in a rubber plantation mixed with natural timber close to a mangrove swamp. At a distance of approximately 65 meters, we could clearly make out their black crowns, the black on their backs extending down their arms and feet, and the white on the chest and flanks covering their upper abdomen and lower thighs. There is also white around the eyes, nose and mouth, making them look like they are wearing glasses and a mask.

Kekah Natuna with infants

We had got there by skirting the edge of the village along a paved road, which made looking for the surili much easier. A few metres later we saw the same troop again. Incidentally, the surili in Mekar Jaya  ppeared relatively habituated to humans.

We continued to walk through the abandoned rubber plantation around Mekar Jaya, getting a feel for the lay of the land and the habitats there. All the way, the surili seemed to get easier to observe up close. The seeds of these rubber trees turned out to be one of their favourite foods.

At the primate congress in Ecuador last year, the Natuna Island leaf monkey was recognised as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. Information on the species is scarce, with only three studies having been conducted since the first specimen was found 86 years ago (read the full report here). A recent publication on the Natuna Island surili in Mekar Jaya estimates that in the three types of habitat found around the hamlet totalling 1,236.17 ha in area, there were around 928.2 individuals. This research can be read in full here:

We also went on night excursions at Mekar Jaya, where we were very pleased to see that the Malayan colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) could be found quite easily. Sadly, we had no luck finding our target, the slow loris, on our two nights there. What really impressed us about Mekar Jaya was their marine aquaculture, and Bang Ahdiani took us on a boat to see the small islands around Mekar Jaya. We found out that Humphead wrasse breeding on Sedanau Island accounts for a significant portion of Natuna’s exports and wrapped up the boat trip with a sumptuous black pepper crab meal.

enjoying Natuna cullinary

What little research on the Natuna Island surili has already delivered some results. Tours are now organised to look for the Kekah which can promote awareness of the importance of biodiversity in order to resist encroachment on native habitats by humans and their infrastructure. Such tours could also boost the local economy, as they will bring about a demand for lodging and experienced guides. The Kekah Natuna is an obscure species, so bringing it to the attention of an audience from other parts of Indonesia and the world will certainly inspire a greater sense of appreciation for it among locals. Simple as this idea may be, it could ultimately encourage locals to take greater ownership of their natural enviroment and guarantee a future for this threatened primate.

Kekah watching will likewise encourage the participation of the general public in citizen science. The data gathered by ordinary people trying to spot different primate species and tick them off on their life lists can be used to inform how the population and habitat of the Natuna Island surili are managed. This could in turn help locals gain more in the way of ecological, economic, social and cultural benefits from conserving nature. For example, the Kekah  Natuna could both become an emblem of local pride, as well as add to the array of special interest tourist attractions that Natuna has to offer. Everyone has a part to play in ensuring that the surili is not trapped, not kept in captivity and not disturbed, and that its habitat is allowed to thrive.

In sum, observing primates in the wild is a fun activity that brings you closer to nature and will get you talking to local residents who may have lots of interesting cultural and personal experiences to share. What’s more, by sharing your sightings with others, you can broaden our scientific understanding of these unique creatures and allow them to be better protected.


Harrison, T., Krigbaum, J. and Manser, J., 2006. Primate biogeography and ecology on the Sunda Shelf islands: a paleontological and zooarchaeological perspective. In Primate biogeography (pp. 331-372). Springer, Boston, MA

Written by Arif Setiawan, Translated by T.T Chan


Petungkriyono Bird Race 2022

all participants, guest speakers and commitee

With the announcement of the winners, the Petungkriyono Bird Race drew to a close on Sunday, 23 October 2022. This competition cum workshop, which had centred on the Black Canyon tourist area in Tinalum Hamlet (Kayupuring Village), lasted three days in total.

In the General category, Team MuLia comprising Wahyudi and Candra Setyawan Nurwijaya came out on top. The delegation from the Youth Organisation of Tlogoguwo Village, Purworejo, managed to beat the seven other registered teams.

The first and second runners-up in the same category were both teams from Jakarta. In second place were Muhammad Bilal Yogaswara and Ainaya Nurfadila (Team Butuh Pendamping Hidup) who represented Simpul Indonesia, and coming third were Aditya Nurrahma Badri and Niken Rahmawati (Team Finding Burung Dulu), from Finding Orchid.

The General category also comprised several other youth groups, agroforestry organisations, as well as the Masyarakat Mitra Polhut, who hail from all over Java, including Jakarta, Pekalongan, Purworejo, Klaten, and Yogyakarta.

participants activity

For the Student category, Team Ngalor-Ngidul won the first place, representing Paguyuban Pengamat Burung Jogja (Birdwatchers’ Association of Yogyakarta). The association, which brings together campus-based birders in Yogyakarta, sent Raden Nicosius Liontino Alieser and Rio Syahrudin.

The second place was won by Muhammad Nafis Ufsi and Ridza Dewananta Subagyo (Team Haliaster team), who took part on behalf of Mapala Haliaster (the Student Naturalists’ Association) of Diponegoro University, Semarang. Placing third were David Suharjanto and Haqqul Fata (Team Bionic) from Kelompok Pengamat Burung Bionic (Bionic Birdwatching Group), Yogyakarta State University. David had been tasked with briefing all participants on the Indonesian Birdwatcher’s Code of Conduct before the race started.

It was in the Student category that we had the most intense competition. The winners had to beat dozens of other teams representing bird and wildlife interest groups from a wide array of universities, namely Jakarta State University, National University, IPB University, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Malang Agricultural Institute, Malang State University, and Airlangga University.

The winners were each given a trophy and prizes worth a total of 12 million rupiah. In addition, a special prize for the Most Dedicated Team was awarded to Team Rangkong Racing Club from Mapalipma (Student Naturalists’ Association of the Malang Agricultural Institute) consisting of Arrayaana Artaka and Ahmad Nizar Zulmi Yahya

Chesnut-breasted Malkoha, (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris), encountered by participants in the 2022 Petungkriyono Bird Race

Conservation Workshop

In addition to the competition, the event also included a conservation workshop that was divided into three sessions.

The first featured Untoro Tri Pamungkas, Perhutani chief administrator and Director of the SwaraOwa  Arif Setiawan as speakers. This session was all about conservation in the Petungkriyono forest area.

The next workshop session started with a keynote speech by Waskito Kukuh Wibowo from Birdpacker, Malang, who covered various aspects of birdwatching ecotourism in Indonesia. Kuswoto, chairman of Welo Asri, was the opening speaker representing managers of tourist sites in Kayupuring Village.

the winner General Category

At the third and final session, which focussed on community-based bird conservation, Imam Taufiqurrahman from the SwaraOwa Foundation delivered the first talk. He explained how seven villages had been involved in a survey of Javan blue-banded kingfisher populations.

The second presentation was by Kelik Suparno, chairman of the Wanapaksi KTH Conservation Division, Jatimulyo. He talked us through his group’s efforts to turn Jatimulyo into a Bird-Friendly Village. Their flagship project is the nest adoption programme, which they have been running since 2017. As of October 2022, the programme has successfully protected 61 nests belonging to 15 bird species, including increasingly rare songbirds such as the Javan blue flycatcher (Cyornis banyumas) and Brown-cheeked bulbul (Alophoixus bres), yielding a total of 93 fledglings.

In total, this nest protection programme involves 45 adopters, both individuals and institutions, and 29 land owners. To date, it has raised more than 45 million rupiah for parties such as loca govt, landowners, and KTH Wanapaksi as coordinators.

Concluding the workshop was a debrief and discussion round moderated by Swis Winasis, the creator of the Burungnesia application. Swis Winasis began with a summary of the presentations of the previous speakers in order to get participants thinking and talking about how birdwatchers can contribute to bird conservation.

He then introduced to us the concept of the silent forest. This describes a situation where birds and other animals have largely disappeared from their habitats due to hunting and trading going unchecked. The verdant Petungkriyono forest is in fact the perfect example of a silent forest.

Swis Winasis, a Batu native, elaborated that in total, the participants had seen or heard no more than 32 bird species having spent half a day in the Petungkriyono forest, going by their notes. The average number of species contestants recorded was between eight and 10.

The ensuing discussion round was meant to introduce the projects of the organisations involved. One of the topics that subsequently emerged was the 10th Meeting of Indonesian Birdwatchers. The intention is now for the event to take place in Jakarta

After having been called off for two years in a row due to COVID, no plans had yet been made for a future edition of that meeting. In the discussion, representatives from Jakarta were tasked to draw up a conference agenda with the birdwatching community there.

The Petungkriyono Bird Race 2022 would not have been possible without the support and assistance of many parties. The Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP), Oriental Bird Club (OBC), Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Zoo Ostrava, and Chances for Nature were the main sponsors. Perhutani supported the event by providing a location to facilitate the flow of participants, funds, and door  prize.

As the organiser of the event, the SwaraOwa Foundation have also received invaluable assistance from various members of the Kayupuring Village community, especially the residents of Tinalum and Sokokembang hamlets. In addition, the organising committee comprised members of the Mendolo Young Farmers Association, Pekalongan University students, and Doro residents.

These conservation-themed competitions and workshops were organised in collaboration with the Black Canyon and Welo Asri tourist organisations, who provided the venue. Burungnesia and Birdpacker provided the applications used in the competition, as well as various door prizes.

Ticket to the Moon sponsored the main door gift for all participants. Other memorabilia were provided by Owa Coffee, Perhutani, and the Department of Environment and Forestry of Central Java Province. Tower Bersama Group provided free health services for one day for participants and committee members.

Written by : Imam Taufiqurrahman, translated by T.T Chan