What we saw and experienced in Sulawesi

This post is also available in: Castellano, Català

During our short stay of just five days in North Sulawesi we enjoyed our stay in what is a very welcoming and prosperous country, whose people are friendly and always willing to help out. We visited the traditional markets where all kind of jungle meat is on sale: although species such as the white-tailed rat Mystromys albicaudatus, pythons, wild pigs and fruit-eating bats are consumed in large numbers, the island’s rare endemic macaques seem only to sold more sporadically. The consumption of all these wild animals – and dogs – is traditional and not due to necessity, as it might seem. On special occasions and for festivities local people eat these animals as a delicacy. In the case of bats, they are not expensive to buy nor are only eaten by the well off; they appear on menus in restaurants (where they are called Paniki) at a reasonable price that all can afford. In the Saturday market of Pasar Beriman at Tomohon, one of the region’s four main markets, we counted over 500 bats on sale. After talking to a number of bat sellers in the market, as well as with local people and people who work in the tourist industry, we discover that these bats are not hunted locally but rather come from South Sulawesi. Recently, it seems, they are also being caught in Borneo since they are disappearing from Sulawesi. After visiting the Tangkoko National Park our guide confirms that he/she has never seen any large bats and that the babyrous, a locally endemic pig, has been hunted into extinction on the island.

Pythons on sale in the market at Tomohon
Pythons on sale in the market at Tomohon
Fruit bats ready for sale in the market at Tomohon
Fruit bats ready for sale in the market at Tomohon
<em>Paniki</em> (bat) being prepared in a restaurant
Paniki (bat) being prepared in a restaurant