West Island School at Tasikoki

West Island School at Tasikoki

It’s been a rather eventful week for Mr Head, Ms Williams and sixteen keen and enthusiastic students from West Island School, Hong Kong who have just enjoyed five days at Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre.

West Island School accomplished a great deal in a short space of time at Tasikoki. Their week started with an introductory session into the local biodiversity, learning about the challenges and the impact of the illegal wildlife trade whilst raising awareness of Indonesia’s deforestation issues and the importance of protecting the remaining habitat to prevent further extinction.


Onsite activities for the week included a large scale beach clean up, bug hunting, foraging and creating enrichments for the animals at the rescue centre. Cooking classes to make local, palm oil free, sweet treats and a Permaculture project whereby the students helped to establish a food garden around the lodge.


Learning also continued away from Tasikoki with a day trip to Bunaken, one of the best dive sites in the world, to snorkel above an extremely rich and bio-diverse coral reef. Followed by a second day trip to Tomohon to learn all about the amazing Arenga Pinnata, a mixed forest palm which produces more than 60 products. West Island School witnessed how the juice is extracted from the Arenga palm in the forest and then turned into a delicious sugar, by hand, at the local Masarang Sugar Factory. The tour continued with a hike to the top of a local volcano followed by a trip to Rurukan to experience the local and very cultural warrior dance. Before the week came to a close, West Island School also had the chance to visit a local school to share their musical skills and learn more about the local culture, a very fun and popular excursion.

The Management, staff and volunteers at Tasikoki would like to send a sincere thank you to West Island School for their continued support and donations. Their generous donations were greatly received by the animals and staff at Tasikoki. We hope that you all had a truly inspirational experience at Tasikoki and look forward to greeting you again next year.


South Island School’s Visual Highlights of Tasikoki.

South Island School’s Visual Highlights of Tasikoki.

For the third year running, students from South Island School have just returned to Hong Kong after having spent one whole week at Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre as part of their CAS programme.

One student, Shannon Hui, was very inspired by her visit to Tasikoki. Upon returning to Hong Kong, she made a series of videos about her rewarding experience at Tasikoki. Shannon expressed her sincere gratitude to the event organisers stating:

“Thank you again for the memorable trip, it is by far an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

We are delighted to be able to share the highlights of her trip to Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre with you.


Blog Post By Shannon Hui


Upon arrival at Tasikoki following an 18 hour journey, our adventure began. The rescue centre resides within what appears to be the ‘centre of nowhere’, whilst also being beyond what any of us could have expected.
Waking to such a beautiful landscape was overwhelming, especially with its divergence to what we’re used to calling home. Hong Kong: An urban jungle!
Walking along the stone paths of the rescue centre, a symphony conjured by the species of Tasikoki surrounds you: cockatoos, babirusas, sea eagles, cassowaries, sun bears, and orangutans are only a few amongst many more.
Over the week we stayed at Tasikoki, we had opportunities to make enrichment for these animals, from foraging and assembly to enrichment and feeding. Furthermore, tree planting, beach clean ups, visual art projects, and excursions to other Masarang projects such as the Tulap turtle hatchery were also included within our agenda- there was never a dull moment!
These service activities provide for greater awareness of local ecosystems and the importance of wildlife conservation and have been a source of humbleness and enlightenment for everyone on the trip.


To see Shannon’s experience please watch her video


“As you walk around the circumference of Mahawu volcano, you’re only meters away from the edge; snorkeling amongst Manado’s reef, its fish and coral are close enough to touch (though, of course, we didn’t!).
Interacting with the local community at Rurukan and in a secondary school, it was heartening to find that we found means to connect and communicate albeit with a language barrier.
From its people, to their houses, to the scenery from land to ocean, the magnificence of Indonesia is beyond the limits of words. After experiencing the benefits of Arenga Forest sugar, after our visit to a local Arenga Pinnata tapper and the Masarang Arenga Sugar factory, it was then explained to us the extent to which palm oil, by comparison, is harmful. At home, we’re accustomed to consuming products without a second thought: purchase, use, dispose, repeat! However, following our return from Tasikoki, we can begin to recognise and consider the ethics of our choices and actions, demonstrating our engagement with issues of global significance.”

Rescues 2014

Rescues 2014



One of the key factors in wildlife conservation is that of education. In Indonesia very few schoolchildren, especially in cities, feel close to animals or nature. They only know animals and nature from an incidental program on television and often there they see how rich persons have wildlife as pets. This is a very wrong education that we need to tackle. The Gibbon Foundation through its more than 100  conservation projects over the years in Indonesia has provided nature conservation education to millions, yes you read this correct, millions of school children.

The facilities at Tasikoki have also been designed to host large school groups and serve as a hub of knowledge for local conservation groups. We also provide our meeting facilities free of charge to local government agencies that hold all kinds of meetings there, as well as church groups, youth groups and other organizations. But they must pay a price…. They have to be willing to listen for at least half an hour to us why conservation is so important.

In this picture you see the large room with school children getting information why animal protection, especially in Sulawesi, is so important. The children are also taken on a tour of the animal rescue center, but are not allowed to enter more senstive areas such as the facilities where the groups of animals that are soon to be released or the sick animals in the quarantine are located.

 We are currently looking for voluntary education officers to facilitate the continuation of our education programmes at Tasikoki. Please contact for more details.


Existing work is in collaboration with


Cleaning up the World’s Mess, One Shovel at a Time

Cleaning up the World’s Mess, One Shovel at a Time

Tasikoki’s Amazing Volunteers Cleaning up the World’s Mess, One Shovel at a Time If you’d asked me a couple of months ago I would have said “you couldn’t pay me enough to shovel bear poop”, so today I am wondering why I paid to scoop up a poo-trifecta of bear, monkey and bird droppings!! “Volunteering” here at the Tasikoki Wildlife Center in Northern Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, costs money. This money goes to pay for my room, food and of course is a donation to help the animals they are so desperately trying to release back into the wildlife. My first night I was sure I made a mistake; there was a spider the size of my hand in the bathroom (which I wasn’t allowed to kill, because the animal lovers also love insects); I was told I had to be up at 5:45 to work for 8 hours shovelling poop, scrubbing the algae of the inside of concrete ponds and cleaning out all the monkey enclosures, our entire dinner conversation consisted of talking sadly about the plight of animals; and I was also told there would be no meat served, because if we loved animals we wouldn’t eat them. I came back into my room and said to one of my roommates, “I think this place is far too ‘hippy’ for me!” Little did I know that in just two short weeks I would make some amazing friends, laugh more than I have in a long time, enjoy every laborious task (well kind of), and feel passionately about saving our world’s wildlife and ecosystems. I never thought it would happen to me, but it has. When my parents asked me what I was doing for work at Tasikoki I told them jokingly “feeding the animals papayas in the morning, and cleaning up papaya poop in the afternoon”, but it does pretty much sum things up. I have been working 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, feeding, cleaning, scrubbing, and plucking branches for the animals to eat. I have gotten dirty, sweaty, covered in substances I don’t want to think about and bitten by more bugs than I can count (every time I look there is either a mosquito sucking my blood or an ant with its head buried into my foot, or on a couple occasions partying in my pants.) I also said to my parents in the beginning, “I am not sure I even like animals enough to do all this”, but I never did mind a little hard work, so I pressed on with my duties. Eventually, I grew to love the two orangutangs Iz and Bento who had the habit of peeing on me through their cage every time I walked by, the sun bears Binbin and Bonbon who had the nastiest poops, Betty the noisy Siamang always screaming for a mate, and the other 30 primates and hundreds of birds the center has. What I started to understand was that my money, and my hard work, was helping these animals to live a better life, and hopefully with mine and future funding be released back into the Indonesian wildlife. I probably complained more than any volunteer Tasikoki has ever had, I will admit that, but at least I kept everyone laughing. Living in my American Bubble, I often forget that the world is suffering in so many ways or that there actually are people willing to fight for it. Willie Smits, the man who opened Tasikoki, is an inspirational man who has devoted his life to saving the world. Seeing that the animal trafficking problem was not the fault of the poor man who needed to feed his family he created a solution that, until I visited his factory and saw it functioning, was beyond my one-tiered thinking. He bought up land around northern Sulawesi, planted palm trees (which when tapped daily, will produce gallons of juice a day, which in turn can be used for making palm sugar and also can be turned into ethanol which can be used for electricity for their homes), and watched as people protected the forrest growing around their crops. Now this area is thriving not only economically, but also ecologically. If you have time check out the talk he gave (, it is truly inspiring!!! I suggest everyone get involved in Willie’s plan to help save the world, whether it is buying palm sugar (which also has some amazing health benefits as compared to white sugar), donating food or money to Tasikoki or just getting educated on what can be done. We can change the world on step at a time, even if you start by shovelling poop!!