Togian The word comes from the local language means “Togo ian” – three brothers whos originally came to the island from South Sulawesi. One of them stayed on Una-Una, the second on Batudaka and third on Togian.
The Togian Islands have long been out of sight and out of mind for most, including the Indonesian government, and so remain very much undeveloped. Life continues for the majority of those that live here in a similar way to that which they have known for many years.
The islands have been in the forefront of several conservation groups minds for quite some time now. Several attempts were made to grant the Togeans national park status. However, due the slow-moving machinations of the bureaucratic wheels within Jakarta, and the fact that any such revenues gained would go straight back to line the coffers of central government, national park status has never been achieved.
Moves are now afoot to grant local marine reserve protection rights instead. It is hoped that this will speed up the process, empower and motivate the locals to properly police the area, and bring much needed revenues to the residents of this part of Sulawesi.
The three largest islands are Batudaka, Togian, and Talatakoh. There are 37 villages on the islands.
GEOLOGY END ECOLOGY
Formed by volcanic activity, the islands are covered by rainforest and surrounded by coral reef formations, which provide habitat and breeding areas for hawksbill turtle, Green Turtle and the Dugong. The Tonkean Macaque is found in the islands’ forests. The Togian Hawk-owl, discovered in 1999, is endemic to the islands. The Togian White-eye, another endemic bird species, was described in 2008.
Spread over a 90 km stretch in the middle of Tomini Bay, the winding, hilly coastlines and equatorial waters of the Togean Islands cast a magical spell of green, yellow and blue, in all the shades imaginable.
Travellers endure the long journey in search of the mythical beach paradise – many stay longer than they expected. Lazy days sunbathing, beachcombing, diving and snorkelling, exploring the dense jungle interiors – the simple lifestyle can be so alluring.
Lying in the deep water basin and protected on all sides by the spidery arms of Sulawesi, and miles from anywhere, the calm and clear waters are full of marine life, and the beaches are clean and undisturbed.
Rumour has it that the Togean Islands are on the verge of being the next big hit on the travelling market, so enjoy it while you can. Let’s hope they can remain an unspoilt and unexploited for many years to come.
THE PEOPLE OF TOGIAN
There are only about 25,000 people in total in the Togians. Pollution is not a major problem out here (yet) and, as evidence of that, remarkably even the piers are clear of floating rubbish.
The people are mainly Muslim Minahasans from Gorontalo, but also the eruption on Una Una in 1983 brought refugees from that island. An interesting ethnic group indigenous to Tomini Bay are the Bajau, or Sea Gypsies. The Bajau number some 2,000 people and adopt a rather secretive, nomadic existence entirely at sea.
They live in wooden shacks built on stilts on top of the coral reefs. They move from home to home by dugout canoe and exist by subsistence fishing and selling sea cucumbers to the chinese markets. The Bajau practice breath hold diving and use only goggles and spears for hunting.
Most of the population live on the main island settlements in small fishing communities on Dolong, Togean and Batudaka.