Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr. praised the wildlife rehabilitation and conservation efforts of the Masarang Foundation and the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center, during a visit to North Sulawesi province on January 8-9, 2015. Accompanied by Consul General in Surabaya, Joaquin F. Monserrate, Ambassador Blake saw firsthand the many Indonesian species that have been saved from wildlife trafficking by Indonesian authorities and turned over to Tasikoki for rehabilitation. The Masarang Foundation, which founded the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center in Sulawesi, received a $25,000 grant from the U.S. government in 2014, and cooperates closely with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA) office in North Sulawesi, the Minahasa regency, and the Indonesian National Police.
Ambassador Blake said that tackling illegal wildlife trafficking is a shared priority of the Indonesian and United States governments, and that “working together with civil society is the key to protecting wildlife and combating wildlife crime.” Tasikoki, established by Dr. Willie Smits in 2004, is a good example of a civil society organization that successfully advocates against wildlife trafficking. During his visit, Ambassador Blake also met with North Sulawesi Governor, DR. Sinyo Harry Sarundajang and the Mayor of Manado, Dr. G.S. Vicky Lumentut. He also highlighted study in the United States when he met students of Klabat University, N. Sulawesi.