On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, about 32 people gathered at Universitas Hasanuddin, South Sulawesi, to have a dialogue about flying fox hunting in the region. The event was part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service funded project “Identifying and addressing factors contributing to flying fox trafficking in Southeast Asia, which has been awarded to the Philippine-based Mabuwaya Foundation and jointly implemented by partners in Indonesia (in this case, Tambora Muda Indonesia), Malaysia, the Philippines and the Southeast Asia Bat Conservation Research Unit.
South Sulawesi is the main supplier of flying foxes for bushmeat market in North Sulawesi. Hunting of flying foxes in this province are deemed to be exceedingly intense to fulfill the huge demand from North Sulawesi. However, information regarding the hunting practices and magnitudes in South Sulawesi is lacking, yet these data are crucial to design appropriate conservation program. Therefore, we conducted the first multi stakeholder dialogue and workshop on flying fox hunting in Makassar, South Sulawesi, to discuss and understand the hunting activities in this area and formulate potential conservation action.
The dialogue was attended by Prof. Ibnu Maryanto from Indonesian Institute of Science, Nature Conservation Agency of South Sulawesi, local conservation NGOs (Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center, Selamatkan Yaki, PROFAUNA Chapter Makassar and Alliance for Tompotika Conservation), veterinarian, independent conservation practitioners, university students and lecturers, and local government and chiefs of villages.
This meeting succeeded to identify known roost sites of flying foxes and hunting location and potential research and conservation program. More importantly, the dialogue was able to gain more interests and commitments from relevant stakeholders to support and take part in flying fox conservation program. Participants became more aware of the severity of bushmeat market and potential negative impact of unsustainable hunting of flying foxes in Sulawesi. They also learned about the ecology of flying foxes and their importance to ecosystem, for example as durian pollinators and seed dispersers.
Interestingly, most of the participants were excited to know the scientific name and endemic status of Acerodon celebensis. Chiefs of villages, who had flying fox colony in their villages, were proud of having the colony of Acerodon celebensis, which could only be found in Sulawesi. They were surprised, but also enthusiastic with the level of supports for flying fox conservation, then committed to formalize their hunting ban as part of their village regulation. Local conservation NGOs welcomed the idea of potential collaboration to do flying fox outreach program together.
Besides a dialogue, on the same day, university students were trained to design and do social survey about flying fox hunting. One of the students will conduct a research about this matter in the coming months.
The dialogue and workshop was a success and good start to initiate the first flying fox conservation program in Sulawesi, Indonesia. We are thankful for the attendance and participation from all participants during the discussion. We look forward to doing what we already planned in this event.