Tag Archives: swaraowa


swaraOwa at World Primate Congress and Symposium 2023

by : Arif Setiawan

a sharing session on a roundtable discussion

August 19-24 2023, will be a historic moment for swaraowa, gathering with the global primate and conservation community to update knowledge about primatology and conservation, build networks, share experiences and discussions related to primate research and conservation activities at primate congresses and symposiums 19th world. Taking place at the Borneo Convention Center Kuching (BCCK), Sarawak Malaysia, this event was managed by the International Primatological Society and the Malaysian Primatological Society, according to the committee report there were 500 people attending from 60 countries. The theme of this congress and symposium is “Primates and People: a new horizon”

Aoliya’s Talk on 10 years of sokokembang primate field course

Swaraowa, sent 3 delegates to this event, me, Nur Aoliya and Sidiq Harjanto. This congress is the 6th time for me, and the first time for Aoliya and Sidiq. According to the committee in its report, there were around 600 abstracts (oral presentations and posters) and there were approximately 500 people from 60 countries who attended. This is a biennial meeting of researchers and primatologists from all over the world. The concept of the event is divided into a symposium and discussion roundtable, for 5 days participants are free to choose which symposium and discussion roundtable they are interested in and this meeting forum also gives us the opportunity to meet researchers, donors, primate conservation activists from all over the world, to get to know each other and network.

Sidiq’s Talk on beekeeping for Javan gibbon conservation

On the first day of my presentation, I presented the activities in Mentawai that we have been carrying out with Malinggai Uma Mentawai, for training teachers and using Quartet game cards as an educational medium. The Quartet game cards that we brought also received appreciation in the auction for primate conservation, a silent auction organized by the committee.

On August 21, 2023, I led a roundtable discussion entitled “Sustainable business models that drive primate conservation: Success stories from around the world” with the concept of intensive presentations and discussions, this roundtable received the attention of approximately 45 people, from various countries, with presenting key speakers from Peru, Singapore and Indonesia. Sidiq Harjanto from the swaraowa team also joined the roundatable discussion this time with a presentation about bee keeping activities for Javan Gibbon conservation.

In the afternoon of August 21 2023, the second presentation, in the gibbon symposium organized by the IUCN Section on Small Apes, was still about the activity program in Mentawai entilted with Siripok Bilou” grass root initiative for Mentawai Kloss’s gibbon.

Nur Aoliya, representing swaraowa, presented training activities on primate survey methods carried out since 2013, joining in a discussion roundtable with the theme Capacity building programs for habitat country primatologists: Gaps, challenges, and successes

This congress and symposium event provided an opportunity for the swaraowa team to be more confident in interacting in the global community, introducing swaraowa activities that have been carried out to conserve Indonesian primates, especially gibbon species.


“A Decade of Javan Gibbon in the landscape of the Dieng Mountains, Central Java, Indonesia”


Javan gibbon ( Hylobates moloch)

Press release

“A Decade of Javan Gibbon in the landscape of the Dieng Mountains, Central Java, Indonesia”

Yogyakarta, August 10 2023. The Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) as the only ape on the island of Java, can be said to be a global identity, because our country Indonesia is also known for the existence of endemic species such as gibbons which cannot be found naturally in other countries. Its population size and natural habitat remain important for Indonesia.

The population and distribution of gibbons on the island of Java are only found in West Java and Central Java. In Central Java, there are currently two large populations, namely on Mount Slamet and forest complex  areas that span across several regions (Kendal, Batang, Wonosobo, Banjarnegara and Pekalongan), which is hereinafter referred to as the Dieng mountain landscape.

In 2012 Setiawan, et al, (https://smujo.id/biodiv/article/view/208) conducted research on the population and distribution of gibbons in Central Java. The line transect observation method was used in this study, and the current estimation results are approximately 881 individuals in the Dieng mountain landscape and 175 individuals in Mt. Slamet . The results of this study later became the basis for a series of activities for the SWARAOWA in Central Java. After this research, SWARAOWA focused on conservation activities in one of the locations mentioned in the study which had the highest density and threat in the Sokokembang forest, Petungkriyono District, Pekalongan Regency. It is from the Sokokembang forest that gibbon conservation activities in the Dieng Landscape are currently being developed, through the Coffee and Primate Conservation Project.

In 2023, after a decade, how’s the gibbon population in Central Java, especially in this Dieng landscape?

Salmah Widyastuti, with colleagues then led research in 2021-2022 to update information regarding the population and distribution of the Javan gibbon in the Dieng landscape and has been published at https://bdj.pensoft.net/article/100805/. By using survey techniques based on gibbon vocalization(vocal counting triangulation) as well as habitat suitability analysis, the results of the study estimate the population after a decade there are 1092 individuals in the Dieng mountain landscape. This means that there is a population increase of 23% compared to 10 years ago. This population increase may indicate the success of conservation efforts from many parties in the Dieng landscape. However, more efforts and collaboration must be put in place to ensure the long term future of the gibbons in the central part of Java Island.


Arif Setiawan – Project Director for Coffee and Primate Conservation, email : swaraowa@gmail.com


SwaraOwa: Building global cooperation for gibbon conservation

written by Arif Setiawan

Hainan, 7-9 July 2023, swaraowa made history at the international level by joining the conservation alliance for gibbon species, called the Global Gibbon Network (GGN). The background for  this collaboration is due to the existence of 20 species of gibbons in the world, as one of the important elements in tropical Asia, spread across 11 Asian endemic countries, where the existence of gibbons in their natural habitat is very important because it is also a center of biodiversity that continues to experience threats. Gibbons are very unique, with the behavior and characteristics of the habitat they use, they have strong family ties. Unfortunately since the 1900’s distribution and population have declined drastically, with populations remaining small in all of Asia’s tropical forests.
Indonesia is the largest country in terms of the number of gibbon species, 45% of the world’s gibbons (9 species) are in Indonesia, and some of them are protected in conservation areas but there are still many other parts of their habitat that are not fully protected outside conservation areas, even 2 species of gibbons in Indonesia are West Kalimantan  Hylobates abbotti and Hylobates funnerreus in North Kalimantan have not been included in the list of protected species by Indonesia regulation. Threats continue to occur due to loss of forest habitat and trade.

The Global Gibbon Network was first initiated in 2020 (during the pandemic) and was organized by two institutions in China through Ecofoundation Global and the Hainan Institute of National Park. The next series of meetings were carried out online and officially invited other institutions in the gibbon habitat to join together as founding partners and announced at the World Gibbon Day event on 24 October 2022, together with the IUCN Section on Small Ape. Swaraowa’s participation in this is due to the similarity of vision and mission in conserving gibbons.

The meeting on 7-9 July 2023 was the first offline meeting held by GGN as an organization with its founding partners. This event was sponsored by Eco Foundation Global and Hainan institute of National Park which officially invited representatives of the founding partners to Haikou, Hainan Island. Hainan Island was also chosen because it is the habitat of the world’s rarest gibbon Hainan Gibbon (Nomascus hainanus) whose current population is only 37 individuals.
Taking place at the Pullman Hotel Haikou, the provincial capital of Hainan, nearly 120 experts, researchers and gibbon conservation activists from ten countries and regions as well as representatives from fifteen international organizations and foundations as founding partners of GGN gathered to discuss establishing a long-term conservation mechanism for gibbons.

I represent SwaraOwa as Indonesia based gibbon conservation organization,  in this meeting as one of the keynote speakers conveying the experience of swaraowa activities for Owajawa (Hylobates moloch) in Pekalongan through an entrepreneur and conservation approach that has been carried out by swaraowa for approximately 10 years, as an example of sustainable conservation initiatives to increase the added economic value of products forest products around the gibbon habitat, with the involvement of local communities and at the same time for the protection of gibbon habitat outside the conservation area. The Owa Coffee project, which was developed from the grassroots level to the global market, is an example of an independent funding scheme for gibbon conservation in Central Java. In addition, I also convey the activities of the Indonesian gibbon working group which is compiling a road map for the conservation of 9 speciees  of gibbons in Indonesia, where this roadmap was prepared by practitioners and researchers for the purpose of providing guidance for related parties who have concerns for gibbon conservation with various development plans. , climate change, forest fire, commodities and policies at the national and regional levels.

This meeting also at the same time inaugurated the GGN secretariat which is in the building at the Hainan Institute of National Park. Furthermore, a secretariat team will be formed and coordinated from here for the next operation of GGN activities.
The supporting partner meeting was closed with a visit to the Bawangling Nature reserve which is the habitat of the Hainan gibbon. During the last 70 years, the gibbon population on this island, which was initially spread throughout the forest on the island, dropped dramatically to 99.9%, and in the 1950s it was recorded there are only 7-8 individuals. Forest loss is the main reason for the extinction of the Hainanese gibbon. However, thanks to the efforts of various parties and the Chinese government, the current population has increased to 37 individuals, which are divided into 5 groups.

A relatively short time of only half a day, it was not possible to see the Hainan gibbons directly, we were invited to see the information center and some of the locations in Bawangling which became tourist visits. However we spotted gibbons as local pride here, murals on the wall in the road to Bawangling nature reserve. We were invited to discuss with representatives of the field team and what was really astonishing was the real time monitoring equipment used to monitor the Hainan gibbon. This command control room is connected to cameras that work automatically to monitor the movement of the Hainan gibbon. Highly sophisticated resource support to assist Hainan gibbon conservation activities.


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 gmail.com.

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.


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


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[https://www.three-monkeys.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Full-APS-Program-Final-11_11_22_Z.pdf].

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



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.