Release the Gibbons Back Where They Belong
Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting Area, Amphoe Thalang, Phuket
Exotic gibbons deserveto be enjoying their beautiful life back in the wild. Lending a helping hand in bringing these wonderful creatures back home will no doubt be a life changing experience for both the gibbons and the volunteers.
Founded in 1992 and becominga part of the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (WARF) in 1994, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project has been dedicated in developing rehabilitation methods to bring captive-raised gibbons back to theirnatural habitat. The gibbons that were rescued or brought to the Project were taken from the wild at a young age; thus,they have to go through a series of rehabilitation stagesin asemi-forest enclosure for several years to fully reclaim their natural behaviour. While it is crucial that contact with humans iskept to the minimum, help and devotion from the staffand volunteers play an important role during this rehabilitation process.
After it is certain that the gibbons are physically and emotionally ready, they are transferred from the centre to the training cage in the undisturbed evergreen rainforest of Khao Phra Thaeo Non-hunting Area. The gibbons spend at least 3 months readjusting to the natural environment under the staff’s supervision, and then progress to the acclimatisation cage, which is situated in the upper canopy, for a few weeks before they are set free. Unfortunately, not all are fit to be released, which in this case, they are given a home at the centre and taken care of by the loving staff.
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project not only strives to rebuild the gibbon’s natural way of life and provide them with the opportunity to be back where they truly belong, but also aims to create awareness to the locals and tourists of the importance of conserving these near-extinct creatures.
Of all the 16 species in the world, there are 4 species of gibbons found in Thailand; namely Lar gibbon or White-handed gibbon, Agile gibbon or Black-handed gibbon, Pileated gibbon or Capped gibbon, and Siamang. Small and light weighted with long arms and no tail, gibbons are arboreal, which means that they spend themajority of their lives in the trees. Wild gibbons cup their hands to drink water from the tree holes, and their diet consists mainly of fruits, with some leaves, flowers, seeds, insects, and small prey. The gibbons are strongly territorial and they sing to defend their territory. Single gibbons sing to attract the opposite sex, while bonded gibbons sing together in a duet to claim their partners and defend them.