Bohemindo talks 2020: The Kukang Rescue Program
27. February 2020 – Embassy of the Czech Republic, Jakarta
Illegal wildlife trade poses a serious threat to species’ survival worldwide. Although it is widespread in Indonesia, its reduction is being obstructed by weak law enforcement. Among the most commonly trafficked mammal species in Indonesia is the greater slow loris (Nycticebus coucang). Despite being protected both nationally and internationally, it is being sold mainly as a “pet”. Indonesian foundation called “Yayasan Peduli Kelestarian Satwa Liar (PASAL Foundation, translating as Wildlife Preservation Foundation in English)” leads “The Kukang Rescue Program” which was established near Medan, the Sumatra’s capital city and a frequent transit point for wildlife trafficking. The Kukang Rescue Program was established as a response to the alarming situation of the illegal trade in slow lorises in this area. The main aim of the Kukang program is to reduce illegal wildlife trade, particularly in this protected prosimian species. To enable it, the program cooperates with local government agencies on wildlife protection and operates a rescue and rehabilitation centre for confiscated animals. The absence of such a facility usually represents a great obstacle for competent authorities in confiscating illegally kept animals.
Furthermore, the program focuses on education, awareness-raising, community engagement activities, and capacity building. The Kukang Rescue Program is supported by four Czech zoos, one Polish zoo and one German Zoo, i.e. Ostrava Zoo, Olomouc Zoo, Liberec Zoo, Hodonin Zoo, Wroclaw Zoo and NaturZoo Rheine, and is managed by a group of Czechs in Indonesia together with Indonesians. The program has also gained the support of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) as well as the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The latest activity of the Kukang program is a project helping a community of farmers with sustainable agriculture in order to engage them in the protection of local nature and endangered species. The community conducts the project primarily through the production of coffee of its own brand, i.e. “Kukang Coffee”. This project is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in cooperation with the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Jakarta. In 2020, the organization will also officially extend the foundation’s focus to protect also other endangered animal species that need it urgently, such as the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica).
Frantisek Pribrsky was born in 1988 in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic. He is an enthusiastic nature and wildlife conservationist currently working in Sumatra, Indonesia. Frantisek graduated from the bachelor’s degree in information technologies at University of Jan Evangelista Purkyně in Ústí nad Labem, but when he saw the urgency of nature and animal protection in the world, he left the perspective field of computer science, completely changed his field of study and focused his master’s degree on animal biology and animal protection at Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. His master thesis became the basis for the establishing of The Kukang Rescue Program, which aims at reducing the illegal trade in animals in North Sumatra province and which protects the endangered greater slow loris (Nycticebus coucang). Frantisek co-founded a foundation in Indonesia called Yayasan Peduli Kelestarian Satwa Liar (Wildlife Preservation Foundation) which runs most of The Kukang Rescue Program’s wildlife conservation activities and where he currently works as its director. In Sumatra, he is also working on expanding community development activities through a “Small Scale Project” grant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in cooperation with the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Jakarta. The goal of these activities is to support farmers from a community living near the natural habitat of endangered animal species by producing eco-friendly coffee, called “Kukang Coffee”, and by engaging the farmers in the protection of these wildlife species.
In addition, Frantisek works as a field zoologist and in-situ coordinator of the Ostrava Zoo, Czech Republic. Under Frantisek’s leadership, the Kukang Rescue Program has been supported by several modern European zoos and also by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Next to the direct conservation of species in Sumatra, Frantisek is currently working on the new European project called Stolen Wildlife, which focuses on the issue of illegal wildlife trade in Europe, especially in the Czech Republic. Frantisek’s plan for the near future in Sumatra is to extend the foundation’s focus to another conservation program called the “Trenggiling Conservation Program”, this time aimed at protecting the critically endangered Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica). Besides the animal conservation, his other passion is sports, especially golf, fitness and futsal.