Reversing the Devastations of Tombulu Traditions helps Macaques

Dr. Willie Smits explains how the once threatened Tombulu traditions in Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia were saved with efforts by the Masarang Foundation – along that, forest, water and wildlife were saved from devastations as well.

In the picture below you can see how Masarang is being received in a traditional way by the Tombulu warriors from the village of Rurukan that we helped get drinking water from new springs in our reforestation area. In this case not the elders but the youngest generation. Thanks to Masarang’s efforts to preserve their Tombulu language and make people feel proud about their culture the traditions are kept. Something though has changed! The traditional skulls on the red clothes are no longer real skulls but fake copies made from recycled plastic! By respecting the local people they have stopped hunting and eating the Macaques as bushmeat and actually now are protecting our wildlife in the Masarang forest.


Macaques were once hunted for meat and skulls for decorating warriors. Hunting has now stopped in the Masarang forest and the skulls on the warriors costumes are no longer real skulls, but made from plastic as shown in the picture. Younger generations were encouraged to participate in Tombulu traditions and the language is taught in the village as well. Forest restoration in the area benefits the livelihood of the villagers via farming, clean water and sustainable timbers. It is important to balance nature and cultural traditions and to share successes so they can be passed on to future generations.

This post was contributed to Masarang HK on 26th January 2013,