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Festival Lestari #5 Sigi Regency: Getting to Know the Endangered Sulawesi Forest Turtles, by ZCC

Sigi - From June 23rd to 25th, 2023, Sigi hosted the 5th Festival Lestari. One of the booths provided by the organizers was the "Endemic Sigi" booth. This booth was occupied by various conservation organizations in Central Sulawesi, such as Kalibamba House, Era Sulawesi, Yayasan Aksi Konservasi Celebica, and Zoological Community of Celebes (ZCC). These organizations shared various information about endemic species that can be found in the Sigi region as well as other areas in Central Sulawesi. On this occasion, ZCC provided information about the Sulawesi Forest Turtle (Leucocephalon yuwonoi), a rare species that can only be found in certain areas of Central Sulawesi.

The conservation status of the Sulawesi Forest Turtle is Critically Endangered according to the IUCN Red List, indicating that this species faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild. Studies on their population are still very limited, and their habitat is highly threatened by deforestation caused by anthropogenic factors in Central Sulawesi (Riyanto, 2006; Riyanto et al., 2013; Simms et al., 2022). Therefore, a long-term monitoring program for the conservation management of L. yuwonoi, including documenting the impacts of human activities (e.g., population size, hunting practices, sources of income, etc.) and agricultural practices (e.g., types of crops, fertilizer/pesticide/herbicide use and frequency, etc.), should be conducted promptly (Simms et al., 2022).

At the Festival Lestari #5 in Sigi Regency, ZCC presented some of the research findings on the population assessment of the Sulawesi Forest Turtle. This research was funded by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ Fund). The study is expected to contribute by providing up-to-date and clear information on the distribution, population, threats, and implementation of conservation actions for the target species in Central Sulawesi.

Moh. Reza Sese, the Head of Planning and Scientific Strategy Department at ZCC, expressed his concern about the critically endangered status of the Sulawesi Forest Turtle. "This species is included in Appendix II of CITES and categorized as critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List, thus it requires our utmost attention," he said. In addition, Khofifah Indah Pratiwi and Auni Ade Putri, the Field Project Coordinator and Project Leader of the Sulawesi Forest Turtle research, conveyed their hopes through the Festival Lestari as a platform to raise awareness among the public about the importance of conservation and active participation in preserving this species.

June 24, 2023: Moh. Reza Sese shares information about endangered species in Sulawesi, particularly focusing on Leucocephalon yuwonoi and Indotestudo forstenii, which are currently the main focus of ZCC's project.

Kalibamba House is sharing information about Sulawesi Butterflies with children through an engaging coloring activity.

The collaboration between ZCC, Kalibamba House, Yayasan Aksi Konservasi Celebica, and Era Sulawesi at the Festival Lestari creates a strong synergy in the conservation efforts of endangered species in Sulawesi, as well as provides a broad platform to convey conservation messages to a wider audience.

Through this activity, ZCC hopes to raise awareness about the importance of preserving biodiversity and encourage active participation in conservation efforts among the community. With solid collaboration among various stakeholders, ZCC believes that these efforts can restore the population of these species and maintain the sustainability of Sulawesi's natural environment for future generations.

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