Trundling back from the island of Java, the office draws me (reluctantly) straight back in, to chew my way through data, get on top of research articles and funding applications, preparing talks for seminars and meetings with various stakeholders. The new additions of plants on my desk certainly bring a nice organic touch to the place, but do entice me to be in the forest. Wildlife photographer Andrew Walmsley joins the team this month, so a visit to Tangkoko, the crucially important nature reserve and home of the wonderful yaki and other remarkable wildlife was definitely on the cards. Furthermore, as this is the site for the focus of our proposed conservation activities, it gave us a chance to meet with our partners of the project and discuss some necessary action and future collaboration.
Curiosity, sensitivity, rivalry, antagonism, bond-forming affiliations and empathy represent the complex array of social behaviours, emotions and sensations shared not only between the continually interacting yaki individuals we observed, but also experienced by us as we find ourselves nestled within a group of the black haired fellows for the weekend. This trip has borne a deeper appreciation of these marvellous creatures, fuelling an even greater determination to protect them and shift current trends towards their unjust and morally unforgiveable demise. It is Andrew’s hopes that by capturing the essence of their complex and fascinating characters on camera, that it can enhance people’s empathic connection and attitudes towards these majestic beings, whilst spreading a wave of awareness to both local and international audiences. The breath-taking images captured over the weekend will be used by the project, and I believe hold the power to fulfil this goal.