Women in beekeeping – Initiative from Sawahan for their family and forest

Of the many scientifically proven benefits to beekeeping, two stand out as especially important to building sustainable livelihoods. The first is economic, resulting from the sale of bee products. The second is ecological, comprising the service bees do the environment by pollinating flowers. It is in fact estimated that bees pollinate one out of every three food items that we consume daily.

Situated near the rainforests that the Javan gibbon wild habitat, the residents of Sawahan- Mendolo Village in Central Java have a crucial role to play in securing the future of this endangered primate. The men in this village have now enthusiastically embraced the idea of rearing stingless bees for honey, an activity known as meliponiculture. Having mostly hunted for honey in the forest in the past, keeping stingless bees in their gardens has both added to their income and made them more economically self-sufficient. This has strengthened our belief in the potential that meliponiculture has as a means of livelihood that promotes conservation.

In order to get yet more people in the village interested in the benefits meliponiculture can offer, we collaborated with the Young Farmer Group of Mendolo (PPM) to hold a workshop for women there, who have thus far not been as actively involved in beekeeping as the men. The event took place on 19 August 2022. One of our main selling points is that stingless bees, as suggested by their name, do not sting, and are therefore relatively safe to handle.

We believe that women are key to promoting beekeeping on  stinglessbee within the community. Playing an integral role in both raising the next generation and tending to the fields, they are ideally poised to impart new ideas about agriculture and livelihoods to the children and youth of the community. The hope is that they will imbue future generations in Mendolo with the enthusiasm to make meliponiculture a mainstay of the local economy. This has the potential to benefit the village in the following ways:

First, the sale of bee products such as honey can increase family income. If each family keeps enough for their own consumption, the honey could also contribute to their nutrition and enhance their immune systems. This could mean reduced medical expenses in the long run.

Second, beekeeping could make for a more pleasant space to live in. If flowering plants suitable as a food source for bees were integrated into the village design, this would have the added advantage of beautifying both gardens and common spaces. Various types of vegetable crops could be grown for the same purpose, such as chilli and aubergine. With the help of bees pollinating their flowers, farmers could also enjoy increased yields from these crops.

Third, many aspects of bee life can be used to inspire us and educate the next generation. The habit that bees have of storing honey and bee bread, for example, can be used to explain the virtue of saving for a rainy day. We can equally learn from the work ethic of these hardworking insects. Aside from being active all day long, bees have a clear division of labour. A queen bee leads the colony, nurse bees take care of newly hatched bees, guard bees ensure the safety of the hive, and senior worker bees find and gather food.

In the light of all these benefits, we hope that the involvement of Mendolo’s women in meliponiculture can make this and other communities around the gibbon forests more aware of the importance of managing natural resources sustainably, as well as provide them the opportunity to engage in independent entrepreneurship while supporting conservation. Through beekeeping, each community is invited to explore their potential in new and creative ways that foster a healthy planet for future generations.

This beekeeping for women project forms part of the SwaraOwa’s Javan Gibbon conservation programme for 2022-2023, which is supported by Mandai Nature and Fortwayne Childre’s Zoo.

Written by Sidiq Harjanto, Translated by TT. Chan.



Citizen scientists seeking the Javan Blue-banded kingfisher

Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher by Siswanto, 2022

More than 50 people are involved in our ongoing survey of the Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher (Alcedo euryzona). Divided into several teams, they have to date looked for the critically endangered bird along five rivers in the Pekalongan area, making numerous observations about the habitat in the process and recording other bird species present. This SwaraOwa project, supported by the Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) and the Oriental Bird Club (OBC), shows us what the citizen science movement can achieve.

Before we started on the survey, we held workshops on bird identification and survey techniques for residents from seven villages around the Petungkriyono, Doro and Lebakbarang forests. The event started in Mendolo Village on 11-12 March, and was subsequently repeated in Pungangan Village (25 April), Kayupuring Village (27 April) and Sidoharjo Village (26 May).

Our workshop at Pungangan, 25 April 2022

During the workshops, we taught villagers how to identify the Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher and distinguish it from other species of kingfisher. In terms of survey techniques, we introduced participants to Google Earth to help them find their way to the observation points. Along each of the rivers we covered, participants surveyed consecutive 1 km-long segments that contained five monitoring points 200 m apart from each other. Stationed at each of these points were two team members, who conducted observations simultaneously for one hour.

In addition to confirming the presence of the Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher, observers were asked to record the condition of the local habitat, other bird species observed and any human activity encountered. All this information was entered onto a data sheet.

Trial survey at Mendolo, 11-12 March 2022

As of early June, we have covered 29 of a total of about 37 km of river sections. This figure consists of 10 km on the Welo River, 6 km on the Pakuluran River, 5 km on the Blimbing River (including the Siranda River), 2 km on the Sengkarang River (including the Kumenep River), and 6 km on the Wisnu River.

The survey has produced very satisfactory results so far. We found Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher along two rivers, namely Welo and Wisnu. The kingfishers were found at an elevation of 308-715 m on the Welo River, and at 638-776 m on the Wisnu River. These sightings have extended the known distribution of the species.

Survey sites at Welo, June 2022

The encounter on the westernmost Wisnu River was quite impressive. The Wisnu team, Mendolo villagers who are part of the Mendolo Young Farmers Association, had previously covered 4 km along the river on three visits, which did not turn up a single Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher. It was only on 24 April that the team encountered two individuals, one male and one female.

Deserving of special mention is Siswanto Abimanyu, a resident of Mendolo Kulon Hamlet, whose quick reflexes got us an excellent photograph of the female bird. Sis, as he is known, was at a monitoring point with his colleague M. Risqi Ridholah. It was more than half an hour into their wait when suddenly the female flew in from downstream and landed only about 3 m away from them. A few seconds later she was off again, flying further upstream, but luckily that was enough for Siswanto to snap a picture of her.

Getting photographic evidence to prove the kingfishers were there was one major achievement of the survey. Not only that, the discussion sessions after each round of observation have revealed a total of more than 90 bird species in the area. These include several important and endangered species, such as the Javan hawk-eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi), the Wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) and the Sangkar white-eye (Zosterops melanurus). Some of this data was logged into the Burungnesia app as a contribution by the Pekalongan community to science and bird conservation.

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


Mentawai Teacher Training : Strengthening Cultural Values and Nature Conservation

in the the forest, all participants photo group

Every year since 2020, Malinggai Uma jointly organise with SwaraOwa a workshop for teachers of local traditions at schools (known locally as ‘facilitators of Mentawai culture’). These people have a huge role to play in ensuring that local children of school going age inherit the cultural knowledge passed down from their forebears. Accordingly, we invited representatives from several local cultural and educational organisations to attend this year’s edition of the event. The event is supported by Mandai Nature and Fortwayne Children’s Zoo through swaraOwa’s Mentawai Gibbon Conservation Program.

It aimed to:

  1. Introduce to the current generation of local teachers of Mentawai culture the local flora and fauna, especially our primate species;
  2. Educate them on the importance of conserving Mentawai primates, and measures currently being taken on that front;
  3. Enable teachers of Mentawai culture to spread the conservation message to their students;
  4. Allow teachers to inspire the next generation to contribute to conservation at a local level;
  5. Bring together Mentawai biodiversity and cultural conservation activists.

Opening ceremony, Mentawai traditional dance performance


The workshop was held from 1 – 4 March 2022 and involved a total of 29 people, made up of the participants, subject matter experts and the organising committee. The participants represented teachers of Mentawai culture from local primary schools, kindergartens, charitable foundations as well as local community organisations

The event was held at Toloulaggo Hamlet, Katurei Village (Siberut Barat Daya District). For the field survey component, we went to a nearby observation point in the forest of Tololago.

activity in the forest

group presentation towards other participants

Chaired by Ismael Saumanuk, the workshop was officially opened on 2 March 2022 by Karlo Saumanuk from the Katurei village administration, followed by speeches by Damianus Tateburuk (Malinggai Uma) and Nur Aoliya (SwaraOwa). The opening ceremony featured a traditional Mentawai dance performance by children from Malinggai Uma, featuring the gibbon (uliat bilou) dance and eagle dance.

Next came the presentations from the two experts we invited. The first was by Antonius Vevbri, S.Si, M.Sc from Siberut National Park, who covered the biodiversity on Siberut Island and the efforts made to conserve it. Our second speaker was Fransiskus Yanuarius M, from the Yayasan Pendidikan Budaya Mentawai (Mentawai Cultural Education Foundation), who touched upon the importance of preserving both Mentawai customs and local wildlife, introducing the activities of his foundation along the way.

On the first day of the workshop, the SwaraOwa team also launched the Mentawai Nature and Culture card game, a memory game that can be played by young and old alike. It consists of cards with photos printed on them that showcase Mentawai biodiversity and culture. In fact, this card game was born of a previous edition of the workshop. Through this interactive game, we hope that the conservation message will be passed on more effectively from teachers to their students. Attendees were also given a field guide to Mentawai  primate and bird species, which had been jointly compiled and published by SwaraOwa and Malinggai Uma.

On the second and third days, we ventured into the forest in Toloulaggo to look for local wildlife. The participants were divided into three groups named after indigenous primates, namely Team Bilou (Kloss’s gibbon), Team Simakobu  (Pigtailed langur) and Team Joja (Mentawai langur). Each group took a different transect walk, taking note of their sightings from 6.30am to 11.30am. After that, they regrouped in the village to talk about the types of primates and birds they found, as well as discuss how these types of wildlife related to local culture, for example the part they had to play in storytelling traditions.

Below, you can find our photos from these two days of fieldwork.

Mentawai Gibbon

Mentawai Dwarf Toad

Tiger shrike

Written by Damianus Tateburuk  (Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai), Translated by TT Chan.

Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai is a traditional Institution headquartered in Dusun Puro II Muntei Village, South Siberut District, Mentawai Islands Regency – West Sumatra. Malinggai Uma was formed on 5 September 2014 and seeks to promote local forms of art and culture, as well as the conservation of the native biodiversity of the Mentawai Islands.


Stingless Bee Honey Farming for Javan Gibbon Conservation Livelihood Program

a stinglessbee hive box, among agro-forest habitat of Mendolo

Beekeeping has been named by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as one of the best sources of livelihood for communities in forested areas. Beekeeping provides two types of benefits that complement each other, the first economic, via the sale of the products thus generated, and the second ecological, by bees helping with pollination. For this reason, SwaraOwa have made promoting beekeeping one of our priorities for those communities living around the habitat of the Javan gibbon in Petungkriyono and Lebakbarang Districts, Pekalongan Regency, Central Java.

In Mendolo Village (Lebakbarang District), stingless bee honey farming – otherwise known as meliponiculture – has had a presence for a few years now. It all started with efforts to catalogue local bee species, which formed the basis for work on demonstration plots and on local outreach to explore the feasibility of keeping stingless bees in the area. Over the past year, several villagers have started rearing these bees, especially the species Heterotrigona itama.

stingless bee Heterotrigona itama

On March 25, 2022, SwaraOwa was assisted by the Young Farmers’ Association (Paguyuban Petani Muda, PPM) Mendolo in conducting a training session on stingless bee honey farming for the residents of Mendolo. It had originally been scheduled for the previous year, but the pandemic caused delays. A total of 21 villagers took part in the event, which comprised interactive discussions about the techniques used in keeping stingless bees and the residents’ progress with their bee colonies.

Rohim, one of the locals who took part, said that the main problems he faced was bee colonies losing their vitality and not yielding honey that could be harvested immediately. “I’d tried moving the bee colony several times but ended up failing. The bees seem to have all flown off,” he said, opening the discussion. Several other villagers faced the same problem.

Mendolo Beekeepers meet up

When the time came for the successful breeders to share their experiences, a lively discussion revealed that the culprit behind weakened colonies proved, in most cases, to be mistakes made when relocating the bees. “It is not that the whole colony had flown off, they were just short of winih (worker bees, ed.). This means that the bees hadn’t been relocated properly,” said Tarjuki, who, in the meantime, has succeeded in raising about 25 stingless bee colonies. Moving colonies inappropriately causes many worker bees to be unable to find their way home.

Aside from how colonies are moved around, the location of hives is also crucial. The ideal location is shady, but not densely packed with vegetation. Sunlight must still be able to reach the hive and there has to be enough air circulation so as not to trigger the growth of fungi that can harm the bees. On the other hand, if the vegetation is too sparse, the bees will be prone to attack by swallows and other birds.

Beekeepers should check on their bee colonies at least once a week. This is important, because nuisance species such as beetles, spiders and black ants have to be promptly removed to prevent them from attacking the colony and disrupting the supply of honey. Also, several kinds of parasite can destroy bee colonies and cause beekeeper huge losses.

Tarsono, another beekeeper, talks about his experiences from the previous season. He emphasises that only reasonable amounts of honey should be harvested to still leave the colony with a sufficient supply of food. This is especially relevant in the lead-up to the rainy season, when the flowers that the bees feed on become scarce. The attendees were encouraged to plant a variety of plants that bloom throughout the year. These flowers can help the bees tide over their ‘famine’ months.

The participants then looked at how to design the ideal beehive. The brood box for laying eggs is 15x15x15 cm. On top of it, a topping is installed as the honey compartment. By separating the brood and honey boxes, honey can be harvested without disturbing the bee colony too much. Harvesting should be done with an electric suction device to maintain cleanliness. This will also speed up honey production because honeycombs are not taken away and the bees can reuse the material.

At this event, SwaraOwa distributed practical manuals on stingless beekeeping. This book summarises the knowledge we had gained by doing research on demonstration plots over the past few years, supported by data from various sources. We hope for this book to serve as an additional reference for the community, so that they can continue developing the beekeeping industry they have pioneered.

Ultimately, this training session has equipped the Mendolo beekeepers with essential knowledge on how to prepare themselves for the dry season this year. It is then that the forest flowers bloom. If the villagers succeed in this year’s harvest, honey season will soon be upon us.

Written by : Sidiq Harjanto, Translated by T.T Chan


Protecting the Javan blue-banded kingfisher

The sighting of a Javan blue-banded kingfisher in Petungkriyono in October 2018 (report in Chan & Setiawan 2019) gives us renewed hope that this globally very rare bird may still be clinging on to existence in undersurveyed areas. However, trying to conserve the bird at that particular site in the western part of the Dieng Mountains also presents us with some challenges.

Prior to the Petungkriyono sighting, this endemic to Java was only reported from two national parks in West Java in recent years: Halimun Salak and Gede Pangrango. It had also been recorded from six other locations by naturalists and researchers during the colonial era, namely Jasinga, Cimarinjung, Pelabuhanratu, and Cikahuripan (West Java), Rampoa (Central Java), and Kali Sanen (East Java), but seems to have vanished from these sites.

riverine habitat of  Javan bluebanded Kingfisher

Even at sites it is known to inhabit, the Javan blue-banded kingfisher, whose scientific name is Alcedo euryzona, is rarely encountered. Nowhere is it common, and it can only be found in lowland rainforests where there is an abundance of clean water, rocky streams and rivers. This bird is therefore known as a river-dependent species.

In Java, there are not many sites left which fulfil these specific habitat criteria. Those that still exist are likely to be protected or in reserves. This is indeed the case for the Petungkriyono forest, which is a protected forest area managed by Perhutani, the state-owned enterprise overseeing the use of forest resources. In recognition of its importance to both humans and wildlife, the Petungkriyono forest has now been classified as an Essential Ecosystem Area to be managed collaboratively by different stakeholders.

While protected status is a good first step, it falls short of ensuring that the area is fully safe from encroachment. Various communities have long inhabited the area around the Petungkriyono forest, for which reason the forest is important not only to its flora and fauna, but also as a source of livelihood to local people. We therefore expect the development of the local economy, including that of tourist attractions, to continue apace. Faced with this considerable challenge, all parties who have a stake in the Petungkriyono forest need to be actively involved in protecting the Javan blue-banded kingfisher if the bird is to be guranteed a future.

Another challenge that must be overcome stems from how little we know about this kingfisher. Can it be found along all rivers in the forest? What exactly are the conditions it needs to survive? We have yet to find answers to even these basic questions, not to mention those details about the bird’s behaviour, diet, population size, breeding patterns, and so on.

Conducting such a baseline study is of the utmost importance because the total Javan blue-banded kingfisher population worldwide is estimated to number less than 250 individuals. In other words, this is a Critically Endangered species by IUCN Red List standards, only one level removed from extinction in the wild.

The SwaraOwa is firmly committed to protecting the Javan blue-banded kingfisher. A group of young people who previously  started initiation of community development and conservation for Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) and Mentawai Gibbon ( Hylobates klosii), now have been try to enhance biodiversity value within the gibbons habitat of this region. We are actively involved in efforts to encourage the collaborative management of the Petungkriyono forest area. We are also working closely with the local community to collect field data and find out more about the bioecology of this kingfisher. With the support of the Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP) and the Oriental Bird Club (OBC), we hope to make the conservation of the Javan blue-banded kingfisher a reality.


Written in bahasa  by : Imam Taufiqurrahman, e-mail : ornyman18@gmail.com, and translation by TT Chan



Honey Bees in the forest habitat of the Javan gibbon

Focussing especially on Pekalongan regency, Central Java Province, Indonesia, our work to conserve the Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) mainly aims to support the sustainable production and marketing of coffee grown in the shade of forest trees (i.e. coffee agroforestry). However, since 2017, we have also launched a project that makes use of bees in the area to build and strengthen local livelihoods.

The SwaraOwa team’s very own bee specialist, Sidiq Harjanto, started this project by first compiling a list of the species  of bees found in the Sokokembang forest. He then did fieldwork at selected sites with different habitat types and altitudes to find out which species were present where. At the same time, he also researched which activities locals were already engaging in that related to bees. One of these, the harvesting of honey in the dry season, proved an interesting tradition to study and develop for sustainable use. In February 2017, we published a brief report detailing which species of bees were found in the area (read here). We concurrently started conceptualising projects to cultivate these bees. These projects centred around several villages near the forest habitat of the Javan gibbon, in Sokokembang, Tinalum, involving several species of stingless bees and the stinging bee Apis cerana in Setipis hamlet. All of these sites are in the Petungkriyono sub-district.

Because Javan gibbons inhabit the forests of the Lebakbarang sub-district, Mendolo village has become one of the focal points of our beekeeping project focused on stingless bees. One of the more important stingless bee species there is Heterotrigona itama, popular for its high yield of honey. To date, several community groups have used these bees for forest-friendly investments that have given them bountiful returns.

Beekeeping in and around the forest takes up a minimal amount of land, because it can be done in conjunction with forestry or agricultural activities in general. Unlike other livestock, bees can find their own food. The forest keeps them well supplied with nectar and pollen, which they store in their hives as honey and beeswax. By tirelessly visiting flowers, bees help to pollinate plants. It has been shown that in this, bees and other pollinating insects crucially support the production of fruits and other food crops, as well as help regenerate forests.



Caring for Our Natural Heritage: Mendolo Forest

a gibbon, photoghraped by Hudi member of Mendolo youth farmers group

Mendolo village is located in the Lebakbarang sub-district of Pekalongan Regency. The Mendolo forest surrounds Mendolo village, and is officially a Limited Production Forest managed by Perum Perhutani, KPH Pekalongan Timur. This site contains one of the 16 critical areas of gibbon habitat in Central Java identified by a 2012 study, and boasts a high level of habitat suitability according to research on the distribution and habitat of gibbons (Widyastuti et al 2020, Setiawan et al. al 2012). SwaraOwa’s long-term projects in this area are all aimed at conserving the Javan gibbons that live here.

According initiate survey, the amount of potential Javan gibbon habitat in this region totals approx 300 ha, (equivalent to 87 football fields) with a gibbon four to six groups in the agro-forest habitat, that we called Wana-Tani in javanese language. other javan endemic primates such as Javan langur ( Trachypithecus auratus), Javan Surili ( Presbytis comata), and Javan slow loris ( Nycticebus javanicus) also occupied this habitat.  Their range comprises locations with natural vegetation of forest and shade grown commodities such as kopi robusta, Durian,Petai, Jengkol, banana, kapulaga,  and many more. A scheme which aims both to improve the local economy and promote agroforestry is a gibbon conservation project centered on this village.

SwaraOwa first became involved in Mendolo village in 2015, when we were tasked with assisting the Pekalongan district government in surveying and inventorying the protected flora and fauna of the Mendolo forest, among other sites . Nowadays, we pay this village a visit almost every month. These visits are part of our efforts to reach out and communicate with village residents, so that we can find out which local commodities in particular can be prioritised for further development.

Mendolo village is also known for its durian production. In areas where agroforestry is practised, durian is an intensively cultivated crop that is grown among wild trees valued for their wood. In the harvest season, this village supplies the durian markets of Pekalongan and surrounds. Although there is currently no research on how durian productivity relates to bio-ecological factors, there are indications that the presence of pollinators plays a role, more specifically bats and  insects such as bees. Honey is one commodity  related to durian agroforestry, being harvested in abundance when the durian trees flower.

Drinking honey, is daily activities for Mendolo villagers

Almost all residents of this village, especially the men, collect honey from the forest. This tradition has been passed down through the generations. Aside from being used for personal consumption, forest honey also contributes to the local economy. We had previously done a preliminary study to find out what potential harvesting forest honey held for this village. This study motivated the Beekeeping team, led by SwaraOwa’s Sidiq Harjanto, to start seriously experimenting with stingless bee.

The Mendolo Young Farmers Association is the driving force for conservation in Mendolo, fostering a spirit of togetherness and inculcating pride in the Mendolo forest. In the early days, meetings in Mendolo village and training sessions on post-harvest handling at SwaraOwa Yogyakarta eventually gave rise to a series of continually evolving projects spearheaded by young people in Mendolo. The project to enhance post-harvest processes for coffee has succeeded in establishing “Kopi Batir”, a small exercise in entrepreneurship that markets Robusta coffee beans grown in Mendolo. The project operates under the slogan ‘nepungaké seduluran’, Javanese for ‘forging strong friendships’, reflecting how this coffee aims to bring people together.

Orange minivet

Projects to promote the conservation of forest areas are emerging at a slow but steady pace, initiated by residents concerned about nature. Birdwatching activities have been and are being developed in Mendolo. These aim to promote the idea that birds and other flora and fauna around the village are an important asset that must be preserved because they promise locals significant economic and ecological benefits.

Activities to strengthen the protection of forest areas but must continue to be nurtured, initiatives from local community  to care for nature. Primates and birds observation activities are being developed in Mendolo (the photos above are some of the species encountered during the observation) the aim is To increase the capacity of the younger generation, recognize the important liars’ lives around the village, birds and flora and fauna are also village assets that must be preserved, it is not possible that they can then be economically more sustainable.

Some of the products from activities in Mendolo hamlet can be obtained through Batir Coffee and Owa coffee. Although still on a small scale, coffee and forest cultivated by local residents can help motivate residents around the forest and support gibbon conservation activities and forest conservation in the Mendolo forest area and its surroundings.

This field reports, part of Coffee and Primate Conservation Project 2021, written by Arif Setiawan in bahasa, and translated by TT Chan,   supported by Fortwayne Children’s Zoo, Mandai Nature, and Ostrava Zoo.




Fabric Scraps for Conservation

“This patchwork tote bag is made of fabric scraps from the garment industry in Pekalongan. Sokokembang is a hamlet in Pekalongan located right next to forests that are home to the Javan Gibbon. Some residents there sew at home for a living or work at a textile factory. SwaraOwa are currently helping several residents in Sokokembang to transform leftover fabrics and discarded materials from the garment industry into useful recycled products. Not only does this contribute to their livelihoods, it also reduces plastic waste and promotes the conservation of the Javan Gibbon.”

The garment industry is one of the foremost drivers of the local economy in Pekalongan. From the city, the textile supply chain stretches all the way to even the most remote villages near the forest. It all starts with cutting fabrics, sewing, attaching buttons and zips, then moves on to screen printing and colouring, sometimes using traditional batik-producing techniques that have been passed down through the generations.

In Sokokembang, one of the hamlets closest to the gibbon forests in the area, activities powering the garment economy are very much present, and have been at least since we first visited in 2006. Such activities form the main source of livelihood for 45% of families here, who contribute to the apparel supply chain by sewing parts of clothing. Other villagers grow various crops or rear livestock in their gardens and the forest. From when we started our projects in Sokokembang up until 2014, villagers engaged in sewing did not do this work at home, instead using the sewing machines and materials at their employer’s place. They worked most days, only having Fridays off.

Garment workers are crucial to the local economy, sustaining those who live around the forest. However, because of the nature of their work, they are generally not as intimately familiar with forest trees and animals as those villagers who enter the forest more frequently. They sometimes even describe Javan Gibbons as having tails! Gibbons, after all, are rarely seen. What these workers do know well is how gibbon calls sound, because these can be heard loud and clear every morning.

Noticing this, the Indonesian wildgibbon team braved the pandemic and tried to find ways of connecting gibbons to garment manufacturing, the sector that provides much of the jobs in Pekalongan. Seeing leftover scraps of fabric everywhere, mostly wasted, the team tried to bring Sokokembang hamlet a solution to this problem.

The solution came in the form of cloth bags. Making them involves villagers who already sew for a living. They form patterns using unwanted fabric scraps and connect them into a highly practical multi-purpose bag. This process is relatively uncomplicated and can be done on the sidelines of everyday sewing. To get the younger generation involved in Sokokembang, they were briefly trained by residents who were already proficient in sewing. After being given the finishing touches by the wildgibbon team, the bags look as illustrated, bearing the logos of Owa Coffee and Sokokembang.

At SwaraOwa, we firmly believe that conservation projects cannot succeed without being made to benefit local communities. Although not without its challenges, this project is just such an attempt to marry conservation activities with fostering an entrepreneurial spirit among locals — all proceeds will go towards supporting forests and livelihoods. By closely collaborating with the locals, we aim to make protecting nature and boosting the local economy one and the same cause, and hope that making conservation pay will encourage further conservation activities in the region and beyond.


written by : Elna Novitasari Br.Ginting dan Arif Setiawan, translated by TT Chan


Primate Survey Method Training Program : Building capacity for young primatologist

written by Arif Setiawan, translated by TT Chan

The Primate Survey Methods Training Programme was held for the eighth time in May 2021, after having been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. As in previous years, this was a collaboration with the Primate Study Group of Gadjah Mada University’s Faculty of Forestry. The Primate Survey Methods Training Programme, which we will refer to as PTP for short, aims to revitalise primate research, introduce basic primate survey techniques and create a network of primate conservation activists, all with a special focus on gibbon conservation.

The first PTP was held in 2013, with the initial goal of increasing the number of researchers and conservationists in Central Java. Between 2013 and 2019, 146 participants successfully completed the programme (see Table 1). Today, these PTP alumni are spread across different regions. Several of them are currently pursuing careers in primate and gibbon-related fields. They have started primate conservation projects encompassing tracts of gibbon habitat which had previously not been protected.

The training given in the PTP focusses primarily on a method of estimating the population  density of Javan gibbons using triangulation sistem, line transects and vocal counts. The programme usually lasts three days, with one day for classes and two for field practice. All editions of the PTP so far have taken place in Sokokembang hamlet (Kayupuring Village, Petungkriyono District).

Training sessions are complemented by presentations by guest speakers, who share their experience doing research or primate conservation. Among the speakers invited during previous rounds of the PTP is Dr Bosco Chan (Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Hong Kong), who has done fieldwork on the Hainan gibbon – the rarest in the world – and visited in 2018. We  also invited researcher Dwi Yandhi Febrianti, who works on the Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra) in North Sulawesi. In 2017 we have invited Dr. Andie Ang, raffle’s banded langur working group and Indonesian javan gibbon researcher, Rahayu Oktaviani as guest lecturer. We hope that the experiences of our invited researchers will inspire participants to embark on careers involving researching or conserving primates in Indonesia.

The PTP this year has had to be modified a little due to the pandemic. In addition to reducing the number of participants, we added a webinar before the main event at Sokokembang. This webinar, held on 22 May 2021, gave our guest speakers the opportunity to remotely address our 60 participants on various issues, which would normally have been presented live. Our first speaker, Dr Joe Smith, works as director of the animal programme at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. He talked about some activities at the zoo that contributed to ex-situ conservation initiatives and the role of Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in gibbon conservation in particular. Our second guest speaker was Nur Aoliya, a primate researcher from Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) who is researching the bioacoustics of Javan gibbons in the Dieng Mountains. For those of you who did not have time to attend this webinar, you can watch the recording on YouTube.

After the webinar, the PTP commenced in the Sokokembang forest, with 15 participants who had previously been selected based on a letter of motivation and their involvement in past and future projects relating to gibbons or other primates. In addition to those selected, there were three invited participants at this year’s PTP from Siberut. They represent a project on the Dwarf siamang, endemic to the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra.

This year’s PTP focused on training participants in the vocal count triangulation method, which we had two days to try out in the Sokokembang Forest. This is a method commonly used to survey gibbon populations. Nur Aoliya, the gibbon researcher from IPB we mentioned above, was in charge of introducing participants to the vocal count method. She had previously also received SwaraOwa’s Kopi Owa scholarship.

On our first day in the field, we selected sites called listening point from where we intended to listen out for gibbon calls the next day.  We also did primate watching tours on the forest road that have been used regular monitoring. Its easy to spot all primates species that have been habituated to humans. In choosing our sites, we took into account how well we could hear forest sounds at each place and the topography of the Sokokembang Forest. In total, we settled on three listening points spaced around 500 m apart. On the same day, we also gave participants a feel of the primate diversity in Sokokembang, teaching them how to identify the different species and quickly estimate the number of individuals in each group they come across.

On the second day, we did a vocal count using the three listening points we had chosen the day before. Based on the loudness and direction of the calls, we estimated the positions of the gibbons. Each of the three sites was manned by one team of participants from 6.30 to 11.00am. All gibbon calls were recorded on specially prepared observation sheets. The data from each observation point was later analyzed to estimate gibbon abundance in the area covered. The advantage of using three listening points (triangulation) was that we could more accurately determine where each gibbon was calling from.

Over the three days of the programme, our participants managed to record the highest number of direct encounters (during priamate watching trip)  with primates in the Sokokembang Forest so far compared to previous years: 30 individuals belonging to four species (Javan gibbon, Javan surili, Javan lutung and Long-tailed macaque). Towards the end of the programme, each team also presented the observational data they collected from the vocal count and an analysis of gibbon density.

We hope that the PTP 2021 has given all participants a good assortment of experiences in the field and a basic understanding of the methods used in gibbon surveys, as well as reached out to those in the younger generation interested in primate research, especially that relating to gibbons.

The Primate Survey Methods Training Programme 2021 was made possible by support from Mandai Nature, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and Ostrava Zoo. Our thanks are also due to Perhutani Pekalongan Timur and the Kayupuring Village Government, Petungkriyono District, Pekalongan Regency.


Semangat Baru dari Sipora, Menjaga Alam dan Budaya

Oleh : Damianus Tateburuk ( Malinggai Uma Mentawai)

Kebudayaan dan keanekaragaman hayati daerah di Indonesia terwujud dalam beragam bentuk kegiatan dan aktivitas dalam kelompok masyarakat di berbagai daerah di Indonesia, dan ini ditandai dengan beragam hasil karya dari berbagai kelompok masyarakat budaya yang menunjukkan ciri khas kebudayaanya masing-masing, sebagai contohnya antara lain jenis rumah adat, tarian, musik, seni ukir, pakaian adat, dan bersamaan dengan keanekaragam hayati contohnya antra lain jenis alam, hutan, primata, burung, herpetofouna dan sebagainya, dan secara keseluruhannya kekayaan alamnya masih asli dan bahasa dan lain-lainnya. Seperti yang ada di Mentawai ini, bahwa kebudayaan hidup didalam  jiwa masyarakat bangsa Indonesia dan perlu dilihat sebagai suatu aset negara melalui pemahaman dan lingkungan, tradisi serta potensi-potensi kebudayaan yang dimiliki untuk dapat diberdayakan untuk dapat mencapai tujuan pembangunan nasional.

Seni Kebudayaan Dan Konservasi Keanekaragam Hayati yang merupakan salah satu bentuk kearifan lokal di Sumatra Barat, khususnya di Kepulauan Mentawai dikembangakan dalam satu wadah atau perkumpulan dengan menejemen yang sederhana, Wadah atau tempat berkumpulnya pelaku seni kebudayaan dan konservasi keanekaragam hayati biasanya dinamakan perkumpulan, Dari sekian banyaknya organisasi, yayasan, lembaga, pemerintahan dan organisasi ini yang berada di Sumatra Barat, salah satunya adalah Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai.

Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai pusat bersekretariat di Dusun Puro II Desa Muntei Kecamatan Siberut Selatan Kabupaten Kepulauan Mentawai–Sumatra Barat. Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai ini merupakan sarana bagi berkembangnya  dan pelestarian kebudayaan dan konservasi keanekaragam hayati khususnya, Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai dibentuk pada tanggal  05 September 2014 dan untuk memberikan fasilitasi kepada masyarakat umum dalam hal di bidang seni kebudayaan  Konservasi keanekaragam hayati dan satwa liar dan primata mentawai, Adat Istiadat Mentawai, semoga Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai dapat menjadi tempat / wadah untuk menggali tentang Kebudayaan dan keanekaragam hayati, yang mulai memudar khususnya dikalangan remaja dikarenakan ketidak pedulian masyarakat itu sendiri untuk memperkenalkan kebudayaan dan keanekaragam hayati mentawai tersebut kepada generasi penerus mereka dan pengaruh budaya asing serta kurangnya wadah bagi mereka untuk mengetahui budaya asli mereka sendiri dan ini sangat memprihatinkan sekali, bagi kami sehingga organisasi atas nama Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai sangat berharap dan berkeinginan penuh dengan berdirinya organisasi ini dapat membantu masyarakat untuk mengetahui, menggali serta memahami tentang nilai-nilai seni dan kebudayaan dan serta keanekaragam hayati mentawai dan serta perlindungan satwa dari jenis-jenis primata (Bilou, Simakobu, Simakubu simabulau, Joja, Bokkoi, herpetofouna dan burung-burung mentawai dan sebagainya) yang sekarang ini sudah mulai dilupakan. Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai juga tidak menutup bagi masyarakat diluar mentawai ataupun dari mancanegara untuk mendapatkan informasi tentang kebudayaan dan keanekaragam hayati yang ada di mentawai. Selain itu Malinggai Uma Tradisional Mentawai juga akan terus mengadakan kegiatan seminar-seminar dan pelatihan tentang Kebudayaan dan keanekaragam hayati kedepannya, kegiatan yang telah kami lakukan sebelumnya yaitu “Seminar Pangureijat” (Pernikahan Adat Mentawai), (Pergelaran Seni Budaya Mentawai) (dan Turuk Laggai di Padang), (Pelatihan Guru Dan Fasilitator Sekolah Budaya Mentawai).

Bulan April tanggal 7-8, 2021 yang lalu kami juga telah berhasil melaksanakan sebuah acara pelatihan untuk anak-anak sekolah usia sekolah menengah atas di Dusun Goisooinan, Sipora. Berjudul “ Pelatihan Pengamatan Satwaliar dan Penggunaan Smartphone untuk Promosi Konservasi”.  Kegiatan yang didukung oleh SWARAOWA dari Yogyakarta dan Fortwayne Children’s Zoo dari Indiana Amerika Serikat. Latar belakang acara ini adalah semakin susahnya kita menjumpai satwa-satwa asli mentawai dan generasi muda semakin jauh dari rasa memiliki kekayaan alam mentawai, beberapa daerah khususnya di Mentawai juga sudah bagus sinyal telekomunikasi, dan anak-anak ini hampir setiap hari menggunakan gawai. Oleh karena itu potensi generasi muda mentawai ini perlu di dorong dengan pengalaman-pengalaman lapangan yang memang tidak dapat di sekolah, bagaimana mendokumentasikan alam sekitar mereka dan membuat cerita untuk oranglain supaya lebih tertarik, ataupun mengenalkan diri mereka dan budaya mentawai. Peserta acara ini adalah 15 orang  anak-anak usia SMA, 10 Orang darai Sipora dan 5 orang dari Siberut, terdiri dari 7 anak perempuan dan 8 anak laki-laki. Acara dilaksanakan 2 hari, dengan susunan acara 1 hari materi kelas dan 1 hari ke hutan. Pemateri yang di undang dalam acara ini adalah dari Birdpacker indonesia, organisasi konservasi burung dari Malang Jawa timur, ada mas Waskito Kukuh dan mbak Devi Ayumandasari, yang akan menyampaikan materi tentang pengamatan burung dan penggunaan smarphone untuk fotografi dan promosi konservasi melalui sosial media. dan tentang primata disampaikan oleh mbak Eka Cahayningrum dari SwaraOwa organisasi konservasi primata dari Yogyakarta yang berkerja untuk konservasi Owa Indonesia.


Hari pertama acara kelas di buka oleh Ketua Malinggai atau  yang mewakili ( Bapak Vincent) dan sambutan-sambutan dari dinas Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Kab.KepMentawai, dari dinas Pariwisata,  dan dari Desa Goisooinan. Acara hari pertama pengenalan dasar-dasar teknik pengamatan alam khususnya untuk satwaliar burung dan primata, dan menggunakan nya sebagai bahan publikasi di media sosial, sperti instagram, facebook, dan whatsapp. Hari kedua acara dilakukan di hutan yang di bagi menjadi 3 kelompok, pengamatan-pengamatan di dokumentasikan di selesai pengamatan di lalukan presentasi hasil dari masing-masing kelompok.  Dalam menyampaikan presentasi ini peserta juga di perkenalkan oleh para pemateri tetang bagaimana menyajikan data dalam presentasi menggunakan power point yang sederhana dan menarik.

Antusias  peserta yang juga di dampingi para pendamping dari Malinggai Uma, telah berhasil mendokumentasikan foto-foto yang di jumpai selama pengamatan dan beberapa diantaranya juga sudah di upload di sosial media. Harapannya kegiatan ini dapat memberikan wawasan baru dan pengalaman untuk generasi muda mentawai untuk lebih mengenal apa yang ada di sekitar mereka dan melestarikan identitas budaya asli mentawai.