The story of kalaweit
In 1998, aged 18, he left for Indonesia with the support of actress Muriel Robin, who financed his trip. He wanted to devote his life to the protection of the gibbons he knew to be threatened by the disappearance of the forests.
Once there, he realised that deforestation exceeded what he had imagined and the serious threat it posed to wildlife, especially gibbons. Living in the trees, they are the first to be affected if the forest disappears.
He then created a first care center in Borneo (Kalimantan), to collect the gibbons rescued from trafficking as there was no infrastructure, then, to receive these animals. In 2003, he opened a second health center on the island of Sumatra and created the Kalaweit FM radio station which broadcast in Borneo until June 2022.
Since 2012, the organisation has been working with partner villages to protect their forests, which are growing in size every year. This helps protect wild animals from deforestation and trafficking.
Kalaweit means “gibbon” in Dayak, the majority ethnic group of the island of Borneo.
The organisation supports biodiversity in general but remains, today, the largest project in the world that saves gibbons.
In Indonesia, forests are destroyed because of mining and logging, but especially for the production of palm oil. Young gibbons are captured and become pets but, at around 7 years of age, they reach sexual maturity, become aggressive and are killed. When the young are captured, the parents are often killed.
Thanks to Muriel Robin for her support.
Thousands of animals have been rescued by Kalaweit: gibbons and siamangs but also bears, macaques, crocodiles, binturongs, reptiles, birds, etc.
Most, other than gibbons and siamangs, have been released. A large number of gibbons and siamangs, which are much harder to release (territorial, fragile, etc.), will not be able to return to the wild and will remain at Kalaweit.
More than 6,000 gibbons are thought to be illegally kept in captivity on the islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Java alone. Kalaweit cannot rescue them all.
Through its tireless efforts in the field, the association can succeed in giving at least some of these gibbons and other animals a much better life. In certain cases even offer them a future within protected forest zones.
Helping local communities to protect their forests
It is the creation of protected areas in the municipalities of the partner villages that will make it possible to safeguard wildlife.
Awareness of the need to protect the environment is increasing, particularly among people who live close to the forests and see these being destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations. Other industrial activities, such as coal mining, gold mining, diamond mining, etc. are exacerbating this deforestation.
Faced with this destruction, Kalaweit works with local communities to protect their forests.
Giving a second chance to animal victims of trafficking
Most of the time, animals are kept in unsuitable conditions: cramped cages, stressful environments, with nutritional deficiencies, an absence of stimuli and companions … Under these conditions, their life expectancy is often short. If they survive, they are unfortunately often killed by their owner at the age of sexual maturity, around 6/7 years old, because they have become unmanageable.
For some, the long process of re-adaptation to the wild life is possible. For example, animals that do not carry human diseases must be selected to avoid contaminating populations of wild gibbons.
Many of the gibbons collected carry diseases such as herpes simplex and hepatitis which makes it impossible to release them.
Raising awareness among indonesians of the need to respect wildlife
A future for biodiversity and for the gibbons will be possible if the younger generation realises the importance of preserving the environment.
Raising awareness in the general public is also achieved by communicating through social networks and other media (press, radio, TV, internet).
The good relationships that Kalaweit has developed with the local populations and partners has allowed us to spread our message in favor of biodiversity.
Integrating the local populations and the authorities
Involving the local populations and the authorities in implementation of the project is crucial. Hiring local people creates a link and a closer relationship with the villagers, encouraging them to take an interest in protecting their forest and its fauna. Kalaweit provides medical care for free to the employees and their family.
Involving the authorities in the project is also fundamental. The fight against poachers or against illegal logging is conducted in cooperation with the Indonesian police, who thereby openly support the work of the association.
Kalaweit refuses to:
- Subject animals to euthanasia in the context of population management. Euthanasia can be performed only as a last resort in the case of a dying animal or an animal suffering constant pain or distress.
- Buy or sell wild animals.
- Buy or sell wild animal parts.
- To sterilise animals by castration. Sterilisation (vasectomy) will always be chosen.
- Dispatch an animal to a zoo or any other establishment.
- Conduct any activity causing suffering of an animal.
- Conduct any activity that is against the laws in force.
Board of directors:
President and Founder of Kalaweit :
Treasurer : Jean-Marc Bouve
Secretary : Carine Le Thanh
Head of Kalaweit office France: Constance Cluset
Head of Kalaweit office Belgium: Patricia Coenen
66 employees work for Kalaweit including the vets, technicians, cooks, wardens and accountants…
Head of Kalaweit office Switzerland: Julien Buée
In Europe France / Belgium / Switzerland
|Expenses 2022||€ / year||Distribution|
|Wages and payroll charges (66 employees)||313 240||23,00 %|
|Food & cares for animals||140 907||10,30 %|
|Running costs France||94 783||6,70 %|
|Servicing of infrastructures||79 959||5,90 %|
|Transport and logistics||91 730||6,80 %|
|Running costs Indonesia||15 019||1,10 %|
|Purchase of forests||631 697||46,20 %|
|Total||1 367 335||100 %|
Here are the report or our last Annual General Assembly. It contains the financial and moral reports of Kalaweit France and Yayasan Kalaweit Indonesia for each year (reports in french).