Maleo conservation in North Sulawesi

Organisation: Wildlife Conservation Society – Indonesia Program (WCS-IP)
Project started: 2001
Project ended: Ongoing
Location: North Sulawesi and Gorontalo Provinces, Sulawesi

WCS-Logo_100x100The protection of nesting grounds is the most urgent need for the conservation of maleo. In 2001, WCS Indonesia launched a project to protect three nesting grounds in Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, in the northern peninsula of Sulawesi. This has now been extended to five sites, with the inclusion of two new beach nesting sites at Tanjung Binerean. The project has three main components:

  • Nesting ground management: The sites are kept free of invasive vegetation and guarded against human intruders and animals that frighten away nesting birds.
  • Hatcheries: A secure, fully enclosed structure is built on naturally-heated soils near three of the nesting grounds we manage. Each day, after birds have left the nesting ground, the site is searched for newly-laid eggs. These are carefully transferred to the hatcheries, where they are protected from egg collectors and predators during the 90-day incubation. Chicks are released after hatching.
  • Local guardianship: We employ a local guardian from a nearby village at each of the sites. The guardian lives with his family at a post near the nesting ground and conducts most of the day-to-day activities associated with nesting ground management.
  • Sustainable financing: WCS has initiated a community-based approach to maleo conservation for nesting grounds outside of protected areas. The program seeks to support site management from the proceeds of sustainable agricultural activities near the sites, particularly focusing on coconut growing.
  • Awareness: We work to raise awareness of maleo conservation and pride in this local heritage through visits to schools, puppet shows, and comics.

Our approach is simple, inexpensive, and effective. In the three years of the project, we have seen a significant increase in the number of eggs laid per day in our sites. By the end of year 2008 WCS will have released more than 5000 maleo chicks to the wild.

Important Next Steps

With these encouraging results, we are now expanding the program to further nesting grounds in Sulawesi. New components to the project we are developing include:

  • Creative new approaches to local guardianship including local families, elementary schools near nesting grounds and NGOs.
  • Expanding a scheme to legally purchase nest ground through sponsorship, to ensure long-term protection of more nesting sites, where possible including adjacent farmland as a revenue source.
  • Collaborative management with authorities and other stakeholders to ensure protection of the maleo’s rainforest habitat, as well as nesting grounds.

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