Thursday, September 08, 2005

Meet the characters: Chanee - Radio Kalaweit

On Location: Radio Kalaweit, Central Kalimantan, Borneo
July 2005

"Thousands of orangutans, gibbons and other animals are now exterminated by bulldozers to create enormous palm oil concessions. Every day, our radio station (Kalaweit FM) broadcasts messages to sensitise people about the oil palm issue in Indonesia" Chanee, Radio Kalaweit.

Nurpradawati, Chanee and their son, Andrew outside Radio Kalaweit

One of the characters you will meet in the documentary is Chanee. Originally from France, Chanee now lives and works in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan,where he and his wife, Nurpradawati, founded the radio station 99.1 Kalaweit FM. Radio Kalaweit mixes popular and mainstream Indonesian music with an environmentally-friendly and educational focus - regularly broadcasting messages informing the listeners about the negative impacts of the illegal animal trade and the detrimental impacts of capturing wild animals to keep as pets, as well as providing advice on what to do if you do come across an illegally captured animal. The station has massive popular appeal - particularly with the young of Kalimantan - and the number of listeners continues to grow. Chanee is now planning the to extend the geographical range of the station's broadcast capabilities across Kalimantan. Chanee's idea to establish Radio Kalaweit stemmed from his long term involvement in, and committment to, saving the gibbon. Chanee started out working in zoos in France, until, becoming disillusioned with idea of keeping animals in captivity, he travelled to Thailand in order to help with gibbon conservation in the wild (it was here that he got his name - "Chanee" means "gibbon" in Thai). Following the huge forest fires that destroyed vast quantities of forest in Kalimantan and kept much of South East Asia under a blanket of thick smog for months in 1997, Chanee successfully gained permission from the Indonesian government to establish a gibbon sanctuary in central Kalimantan. His gibbon island, near to Palangkaraya, has provided a sanctuary for gibbons confiscated from those keeping them illegally as pets ever since.

A victim of the illegal trade in gibbons

With financial support from the Arcus Foundation, Chanee then established Radio Kalaweit (kalaweit meaning gibbon in Dayak) having perceived the importance of education amongst ordinary Indonesian people in the struggle to protect the gibbon from extinction. The station now has so many committed listeners that Chanee often receives animals from owners who have felt pressurised into giving them up by the sheer weight of disapproval from their friends, neighbours, and relatives. Through providing listeners with information, encouragement, and advice, Radio Kalaweit is taking very positive steps in developing a public awareness of, and aspiration towards, wildlife and forest conservation in Kalimantan.

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