Aurélien Brulé, known as Chanee, has been passionate about gibbons since the age of 13. His association Kalaweit buys forests parcels to save the gibbons from deforestation. This is how the Kalaweit project came into being to preserve biodiversity in Indonesia.
Kalaweit wishes to purchase forest land from the local villagers before it is sold for commercial purposes, mainly intensive palm oil production, in order to extend its Dulan Nature Reserve in southeastern Borneo, Indonesia. They initially purchased 500 hectares of forest from a total of 1,500 hectares, since 2018, in order to create the reserve.
These 1,500 hectares of both primary and secondary forest are home to a varied and very dense population of animal and plant species (100 orangutans, gibbons, clouded leopards, proboscis monkeys, sambar deer, sun bears, langurs, macaques, pangolins etc.)
The area is surrounded by coal mining and palm oil companies, and their proximity raises the fear of its rapid destruction if it is not urgently protected.
Kalaweit ensures the daily surveillance and protection of the reserve by hiring the local villagers who, in turn, may still collect fruit and other materials and fish the lake inside the reserve in a sustainable manner. Kalaweit’s end goal is to secure the remaining hectares of forest by the end of 2022 with the help of as many partners as possible.
Since their initial purchase of land, no poaching or logging has occurred inside the Dulan Nature Reserve.
The initial and main problem for wildlife in Borneo (Kalimantan) is palm oil tree plantations. The natural forest is destroyed at an alarming rate to let palm oil trees exploitations increase. Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation. If nothing is done to protect the remaining rainforests, Borneo will lose all of its rainforests, within a few years. Deforestation leads to an increase in wildlife trafficking which Kalaweit is fighting against in two ways: buying hectares of forest to create protected private reserves and hosting wildlife from wildlife trafficking.
They have already purchased 500 hectares of forest out of 1,500 in the affected area. A surveillance program is in place (equestrian and air patrols) and guard posts have been built at the various boundaries of the reserve. We created jobs by hiring local guards for that reserve. Part of the forest is already saved.
The 1,500 hectares of both primary and secondary forest concerned are located in the Barito Utara district in the Kalimantan Central Province of Borneo, Indonesia. The forest is situated near the village of Butong along the Barito river, 25 minutes from Kalaweit Pararawen’s base camp. It is a 7-hour drive and 1-hour boat ride from the city of Palangkaraya. The entire forest belongs to private landowners (families) from the village of Butong. The size of each family plot ranges between 0.3 hectares and 25 hectares. The forest is home to a varied and very dense population of animal and plant species. In its center is a lake in which many crocodilians live and in which the local villagers fish. The villagers also collect fruit and other materials in the forest.
The biggest risk is the lack of time. It is imperative that they purchase these plots of land before the coal mining or palm oil companies. If even one part of this remaining forest is destroyed, many of these animals will be killed, or their young captured to supply the illegal wildlife trade. The local Dayaks eat many wild species such as proboscis monkeys, fruit bats, muntjac deer and bears. Pangolins are hunted locally for the Chinese market. Wherever Kalaweit has purchased land, these hunting activities as well as illegal logging have ceased. The villagers are also aware that, if the palm oil plantations expand, the lake at the center of the forest will become polluted and fishing will no longer be possible.
There is always a risk of fire but, due to daily patrols, they would be alerted immediately and because of the proximity of the lake and river, a quick response is possible. As Kalaweit has spent the past 22 years rescuing and sheltering a wide range of animals, from gibbons to bears, macaques, crocodiles, etc coming from the illegal wildlife trade or illegally kept as pets by the local people, our organization is fully aware of the risk the wildlife faces if nothing is done to save and protect this remaining forest.
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