looking at an endemic Bangka Belitung animal, Tarsius, at the Alobi Foundation.

Tarsius Bangka

A few times ago, I had the chance to walk around Bangka Belitung Province, exactly Bangka Island. As a photographer, I wouldn't pass up this moment; I must take some photos in this province. Actually, I've come here many times, but in this moment, I thought I had to shoot something special in here. I tried browsing something special on this island, and yea, I found the endemic animal of this province, Tarsius. The scientific name of Tarsius Bangka is Cephalopachus bancanus, or local residents used to call it "Mentilen".

It's not easy to find Tarsius in Bangka; aside from being endemic, this one is rare too. Tarsius is a primate animal that we can find just in Bangka, Belitung, and Sulawesi islands, Indonesia. Tarsius is a nocturnal animal. They were used to sleeping during the day and being active at night. This animal had another uniqueness: it could rotate its neck 180 degrees.

I have tried to find Mentilen since the morning, with Mr. Rendra as my guide. He tried to call his friend who had mentilen, but until this evening we didn't find where the mentilen was. Actually, Bangka and Belitung were two different islands. Although we are still in one province (with one governor), we had to use ships to move from Bangka to Belitung and vice versa. In Belitung, it is not difficult to find Tarsius. In there, there was a tourism place; we called it "Batu Mentas," which keeps Tarsius.

But now I was in Bangka. I had searched for much information about Tarsius location in Bangka last night before I left, but it's true that there is no place that specializes in keeping Tarsius in Bangka. My guide said, "Keep calm; we'll find it. I am the local resident in Bangka". That's why we must have local residents be our guides; they usually know every place in their neighborhood, and one thing that is most important is that they know the local language.

From morning until afternoon, we didn't find Tarsius. We took a break for lunch while looking for more information about where the Tarsius was located, and of course we found the Alobi Foundation. We found a website, https://alobi.org/, about wildlife conservation and research in Bangka Belitung. More than 7000 animals have been brought into their natural habitats for the past nine years (2014–2023).

Alobi had two places in Bangka Belitung; the first one was the conservation place in Reclamation Village Air Jangkang, and the second one was in Kacang Pedang as the office. Honestly, I felt shocked when I learned that in Bangka there was an animal conservation organization. So far, I just know that Bangka has many wild crocodiles and is the world's largest tin mine.

I met Mr. Endi Riadi, the manager of the Alobi Foundation. Before going to the Alobi office, we went to the Alobi reclamation place in Air Jangkang. We found someone who was angry at me because I took a photo of the binturong without a permit. As a photographer, it is normal that not everyone likes to take photos. In the photography world, there was a quote: "It's better to apologize than to ask permission". I forgot his name, but I think he just woke up; his eyes are still red, like he just woke up. He said, "Woi, Did you have a permit to take my Binturong photo?" I was still silent for a while, and did you know that my guide knew him well? He was a neighbor of my guide. My guide said, "Hey, don't be angry. This is my friend". In my mind, "Oh my god, I am safe". 

In this alobi conservation place, there were many animals that were still being conserved before being released again. I felt like going to Steve Irwin's place in Australia. There were many facilities to conserve animals here. After he finished being angry, the man who was angry with me before said, "This conservation area is a restricted area, and I'm just doing my job to supervise animals here; if you want to see mentilen, let's go to our office at Kacang Pedang; there is my boss there. We have a mentilen that we have not released yet.

Tarsius or Mentilen in Alobi

In Kacang Pedang, we met Mr. Endi. The first time we arrived, I was so surprised. There were two cars that had been modified to be animal conservation cars. In my mind "wow, this is a bona fide animal conservation place". After a while talking with Mr. Endi, it turns out that his parents work in the same place as me. LOL, hahaha...

Mr. Endi said Alobi was found by Mr. Langka Sani in 2014. Mr. Sani studied in Australia in 2009. He found that Australia cared for its rare animals. Mr. Sani adopted it after he came back to Indonesia. Starting with a group of animal lovers, the Alobi Foundation eventually grew. Alobi Foundation funding is purely from international non-governmental organizations.

I took photos and videos of Mentilen/Tarsius in the cage behind Alobi's office. In between taking photos, Mr. Endi received a call from someone, I think from outside Indonesia. I heard Mr. Endi speaking. "Wow, he speaks English fluently", I said in my mind. Speaking English is a way for us to enter the world because English is an international language.

Actually, I took mentilen photos for my office profile book. I think if I make Tarsius the cover of my office profile book, it will be a nice one. Beside that, I am a hobby photographer, and I have taken many photos in southern Sumatra. I loved to meet someone new, and I loved to talk with someone new. I think if I got good photos that was just a bonus. You can see my portofolio in my website. Beside as a photographer, I loved to writing. I have a principle, "If you know something good, write it or you will forget it!"

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