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Tasikoki, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

​First off I must apologise for the lack of blogs in the last couple of months! WiFi in Indonesia is not the greatest!

We are currently in Singapore for the second time on a ‘visa run’, enjoying the luxuries of a developed affluent country.
Paul and I have spent the last couple of months volunteering at Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which is home to an array of native and non-native animals including Orangutans, Black Crested Macaques, Cockatoos, Eclectus Parrots, Asian River Turtles, Javan Slow Loris, Papa Wallaby, Asian Sunbears, Babarusa (the 3 we have at the centre are very special as they have been hunted to extinction in the wild in North Sulawesi), and even two domestic cats. There are hundreds of animals here, all of which have been taken from their homes and families to be sold into either the illegal pet trade or bush meat.

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On a regular basis the centres coordinator’s Simon and Angela (who is also a Veterinary Nurse) get called out to rescue confiscated animals, whether it be from people’s homes or a local market.
We have learnt about some of the truly pitiful circumstances that these animals have arrived in – some birds have been transported in plastic drinks bottles in which they’re wedged inside, monkeys being kept as pets and chained up inside cages in which they cannot even stand up in properly, river turtles being sold at markets for food. The list is an endless depressing representation of how humans views animals – a commodity which can be replaced easily.

You may be thinking to yourself ‘this has nothing to do with me, I don’t live there or support these trades’, but this is where you are wrong. We all have a part to play in this. Look at the two species of Orangutan (Borneo and Sumatran) which are both classified as Critically Endangered (one step away from Extinction in the Wild)- their main issue is their homes being destroyed for the palm oil industry. Palm oil is in everything from biscuits to face wash. We buy these items everyday. We are playing a part in losing this animal for good. See? None of us are an innocent party here.

Our average working day starts at 6am, when we go ‘browsing’ for leaves for the leaf eaters, and foraging for forest fruits such as figs or cherries.

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We have breakfast at 8am then back to work at 9am. We vary our days between designing and implementing various enrichments for the animals, to feeding and cleaning out, and ‘greenarising’ (the animals in question are removed from their enclosure so we can go in, remove old and worn branches etc, replace with new greens/permanent enrichment).

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Lunch is from 11.30-1pm. Between 1-4pm it is much of the same. So much to do in such little time!

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As with any job there are downfalls – mosquitoes and ants. Oh and bloody huge spiders! It’s a regular occurrence for me to find an ant or two down my trousers biting me.

There is also an array of insects and snakes to be found…even when you do your laundry!

But hey! We have animals to feed, the show must go on!

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By the end of the day we are sweaty, stinky messes, but satisfied and fulfilled. What more could you ask?

We have been incredibly fortunate to share our 2 months here with some truly fantastic friends. Your fellow volunteers really do make the experience for you, and we feel we have made friends for life with these guys. We have been on various outings with them on our group day offs, including a trek to Tangkoko National Park and Tomohon volcano.

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We also play football with some of the staff from the centre once a week. It’s brilliant fun and such a laugh – even though there is a language barrier nothing can stop you all from enjoying a game of football.

I have also given Paul a haircut here – my first and hopefully last time as let’s just say I’m not a natural! We had an audience – we were the afternoons entertainment!

Another first was rubbing squashed banana and papaya on my face in an attempt to help my spotty face! A natural face mask – however it resembled bear poop which made it all the more entertaining!

I have been fortunate enough to spend some time assisting Angela in the on-site Veterinary clinic. Amongst our patients we have had Crowned Pigeon health checks, Black Crested Macaque (another Critically Endangered species) health checks, Palm Cockatoo health checks, and three finger amputations on three monkeys (Moor and Black Crested Macaques) which were caused by fights. We also had one of the Black Cresteds in with two very large bite wounds on his hip area due to frightening. I’m pleased to report all of these patients have recovered well! It’s been fantastic experience for me.

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Paul has proved to be an invaluable team member with his DIY skills – never underestimate the power of DIY!

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We have both also started our own project there which we are currently fundraising for. There are 15 Javan Slow Loris’ here who were rescued from the illegal pet trade at the start of the year. Their current enclosures are not suitable at all, and as a result many are showing signs of stress – notibly alopecia. Again these animals are Critically Endangered, and are in desperate need of some help. Tasikoki is a charity, they do not have an income. The centres funds come from volunteer fees and donations. Hence why we are taking on this project – to help the centre house these beautiful animals appropriately and safely.

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For more information on our project please check out the following link -https://simplygiving.com/slowloris

Currently we have raised $730, people have been incredibly supportive and generous! This has given us the opportunity to hire 4 local Indonesians to continue the grinding of the metal enclosures and painting, a job that Paul and I had been doing with the help of our fellow volunteers.

We will be returning to the project for another month to ensure the completion of the new Slow Loris enclosures, so another update will follow!

Over all we have thoroughly enjoyed our time at Tasikoki, and we are excited to return and see those beautiful Slow Loris get moved into their new enclosures.

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