The Togean Islands of Indonesia—spanning 90 kilometers and consisting of six main rugged islands and 60 smaller satellite islands–are an ecologically vital component of the region’s ‘coral triangle’ between Sulawesi, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Rich in marine biodiversity, the waters surrounding the Togean Islands contain at least 262 species of coral, 45 of which can only be found in this area. When local conservationist Putu Sarilani Wirawan began planning a Rare Pride campaign to protect the Islands’ treasures, she chose the endemic Napoleon wrasse, a brilliant blue fish with a threatened coral habitat, as the flagship mascot.
Despite the beauty and rich biodiversity of the Togean Islands, these still waters are under constant threat by destructive fishing techniques (especially use of dynamite and cyanide), including those used to meet the global demand for Napoleon wrasse. The use of dynamite fishing rather than more sustainable economic practices is indicative of a larger social problem: poverty. A total of 29 villages in the Togean Islands are classified as poor, with an annual per capita income of approximately $78 US. Impoverished residents have few options, making conservation challenging.
Putu’s 2001-02 Pride campaign used a variety of marketing techniques to raise awareness of the long term effect marine destruction would have on local livelihoods. These included a puppet show seen by more than 5,000 students; visits from the Napoleon wrasse mascot to 55 primary schools; and 4,000 copies of a conservation-themed activity magazine distributed to children throughout the Island communities.
Togean Islands obtain National Park status
On Tuesday, October 19, 2004, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry signed a bill declaring 362,000 hectares of the Togean Islands a national park. The new park includes 292,000 hectares of marine ecosystems and roughly 70,000 hectares of land area.
New fishing regulations
In 2002, the Togean village of Kabalutan established regulations protecting 10 sites within its traditional fishing grounds from destructive practices.
Community-based conservation established
In addition, local fishermen were so convinced of the importance of saving the reef in order to maintain their livelihoods that community-based conservation took strong hold in two island areas Kabalutan and Lembanato.
Kepulauan Togian Marine Reserve comprises an area of 100,000 ha and lies between the northern and central arms of Sulawesi. Administratively, the reserve falls under Central Sulawesi province.
Kepulauan Togian consists of a group of islands and the surrounding coral reefs. The most important islands are Una-Una, Batudaka, Togian, Talatakoh, Waleakodi, Waleabahi and Poat. Of these, Pulau Batudaka and Pulau Togian are the most visited islands. On Pulau Una-Una you’ll find one of the active volcanoes of Sulawesi: the Gunung Colo Meletus which last erupted in 1983.
The sea surrounding the islands has extensive areas of well developed and little damaged coral reef. Several species of turtles and Dugong can be seen. Wildlife on the islands consists of Babirusa, which lives in the forests covering the islands, and the Coconut Crab, the world largest land-living arthropod.
Pulau Wakakodi, Pulau Togian and Pulau Batudaka are served once a week by the Poso – Gorontalo ferry. You can board this boat in both places.
From Ampana, near Tanjung Api, boats to Pulau Batudaka and Pulau Togian depart every other day. Ampana can be reached by bus from Poso or Luwuk.
Diving and snorkel equipment to explore the reefs can be hired at the hotels on the islands.
On Pulau Batudaka you’ll find the Wakai Cottages. The people who run these cottages devote their work to Togian Islands’ nature. Ask for Ulfa when you’re in Ampana.