25 January 2010

Yellu Island

What originally started as a 200 square kilometer no-take zone has now been increased to 425 sq. km. Misool Eco Resort MER take their conservation work very seriously. They have set up a UK charity called the Misool Conservation Centre to raise funds for the all important work of taking care of these waters.  They have leased the area around their resort from the nearby Yellu traditional village owners for the next 25 years and they have active rangers in their ranger boats patrolling every week since 2006. Being guardians of these waters, the strict no-take rule is enforced and quite some fishermen (like commercial tuna fishing vessels, shark finning fishermen and the odd artisanal fisherman here and there) have been kindly asked to leave the no-take zone during the past four years they have been lease holders. Bravo to the hard working rangers and bravo to the founders of MER.

Ranger Rajak patrols the pristine Misool waters

Ranger Rajak patrols the pristine Misool waters

Ranger Rajak who is from the Yellu village launched his own initiated project – the Misool floating library while we were there. Lucky for us to be part of the library’s maiden voyage. First we traveled from MER to Yellu village for an hour in the ranger boat with Rangers Rajak and Safar and one of MER’s founders Marit Miners. A visit to the school was Rajak’s first order of the day. The Rangers and Marit gave a video showing of MER’s video which showed most of the marine animals and unique critters living in Misool waters.

This small macbook kept the children glued to it for half an hour

This small macbook kept the children glued to it for half an hour

The children were rapt. Yogi clicking away didn't once make the kids clown around for the camera

The children were rapt. Yogi clicking away taking their photos didn’t once make the kids clown around for the camera

They were seeing animals that belonged right under their waters and they hardly blinked for fear of missing a scene. They oohed and aahed and it was such a privilege to witness the children’s awe.

Leadership qualities shine through Ranger Rajak as he talks in front of the school children of Yellu

Leadership qualities shine through Ranger Rajak as he talks to the school children of Yellu

This village own the very waters we have been diving in these past weeks and with the help of computer technology, Ranger Rajak explained why bolehs or foreigners like us come from far away, go day after day – sucking air from bottles and dive underwater for an hour, to see what is in their amazing waters.

After the video showing, we had to of course bring out our WWF flag! Of course!

After the video showing, we brought out our WWF flag. But of course! Here is shy Marit beside Yogi

Then it was off to the pier for all of us for the main event. The Misool floating library. We looked at the mob of kids surrounding Rajak and thought, “he is never going to see these books again!” But lo and behold, ye of little faith . . . Rajak made the kids read there and then. For about half an hour, these kids had books to read and pretty pictures to see.

Ranger Rajak's mobile library in a styrofoam cooler box!

Ranger Rajak’s mobile library in a styrofoam cooler box!

The donated books were in Bahasa Indonesia and the kids noses were on the books! What a happy sight!

Learning happens when you have a book in your hands . . .

Learning happens when you have a book in your hands . . .

Drawings of fish like this coral grouper keep three active boys still for the moment

Drawings of fish like this coral grouper keep three active boys still for the moment

So begins Rajak’s project. There will be more school visits and there will be more learning and there will be more awareness that could all lead to the kids caring for their environment. This is our hope for the future. Well done Rajak.