Kalaweit is a French nonprofit created in 1997 to safeguard the gibbons and their habitats in Borneo and Sumatra. This arboreal monkey, protected by the Washington Convention (1973) is threatened with extinction by the destruction of the primary forest - of which 2 million hectares disappear every year in Indonesia - particularly for the production of palm oil. Today, Kalaweit is conducting the largest program for the protection and safeguard of the world's gibbons and siamangs, employing 50 persons in Indonesia and one in France to manage six reserves (more than 60,000 hectares of forests). With the active support of the regional authorities, its mission includes the creation of natural sanctuaries, the reintroduction of animal species, as well as medical and educational support of the local populations.
In 2010, Kalaweit received permission to get involved in managing an exceptional 25,000 hectare reserve, located southwest of the city of Padang, "Air Tarusan", with the creation of a logistic center and a scientific station. Created before 1945 and the island's independence, the reserve was never managed, but was luckily spared from deforestation thanks to its uneven topography. Consisting mainly of old-growth forest, it shelters emblematic species (tigers, tapirs, siamangs, gibbons) whose future appears to be assured by a stable ecosystem. The presence of predators (eagles, wildcats) favors the agriculture on its periphery, because the rice plantations are less damaged by the rodents. The quality of the tree cover also promotes the rainfall that the villagers need to irrigate the paddies. In recent years, however, economic development and demographic growth have started to exert pressure on the forest (illegal felling, conflicts of interest between wildlife and population, road construction).
The inhabitants of the villages on the outskirts of the reserve benefit from the reserve project. This means about 10,000 people who are directly affected, further enhanced by the creation of six jobs for full-time rangers and the priority availability of the research station for the Indonesian scientific community, in partnership with the University of Padang.
The project includes many investments (photographic equipment, vehicles, building, solar equipment, etc.). The Veolia Foundation is contributing specifically to the construction of the logistic center.