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Story Publication logo August 22, 2022

Toek Production, Sipora's Culinary Speciality Threatened by Deforestation (bahasa Indonesia)

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The threats to four endemic primates and the biodiversity of Sipora Island

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This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Mentawai Kita. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


SIPORA—Some women are soaking in Goisooinan River, North Sipora, Mentawai Islands. They are about to harvest toek (Bactronophorus sp), a mollusk from the bibalvia class that lives inside pieces of tumung tree logs soaked in the brackish river. One of them lifted the floating, rope-tied piece of tumung log.

On a river rock, they axed the log, which had become a toek nest, until it split open. Inside wriggled a white, translucent worm-like mollusk. The toek had made the log its nesting burrow. The toek is 10 to 30cm long. At the end of its tail is a shell like a clam shell, white in colour and small in size.

The women work quickly to remove the toek from its nest one by one and place it in a plastic container, ready to be sold. Most toek enthusiasts come directly to the river, many even wading in the river to take the toek from the nest and eat the fresh toek right away. One piece of toek nest wood costs Rp150,000 to Rp200,000.


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Dian Novita, 30, one of the women who cultivates toek, said that every family in Goisooinan Village has a toek nest log in the river. "Besides for our own needs, this is also an additional economic benefit for Mentawai women here, because the ones who take care of the toek are women," she said.

Men only help to take the logs from the forest and roll them to the riverbank. The rest of the work to make the toek house is done by women.


Women in Goisooinan, North Sipora, Mentawai harvesting toek from a rotted log in the river. Photo by Rus Akbar/Mentawaikita.com. Indonesia, 2022.

Dian Novita who cultivates toek Photo by Febrianti/Mentawaikita.com. Indonesia, 2022.

Residents are harvesting toek and the tumung wood behind them is planted on the side of the river. Photo by Rus Akbar/Mentawaikita.com. Indonesia, 2022.

Stems of tumung wood being dried in the sun before being soaked. Photo by Rus Akbar/Mentawaikita.com. Indonesia, 2022.

Tumung wood is soaked to produce toek. Photo by Rus Akbar/Mentawaikita.com. Indonesia, 2022.

Tumung wood that has been filled with toek. Photo by Rus Akbar/Mentawaikita.com. Indonesia, 2022.
Video by Mentawai Kita. Indonesia, 2022.

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