Green Activity

Release the Gibbons Back Where They Belong


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.          
ABOUT Gibbons
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.

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project helps pairing the compatible gibbons together and raising their offspring because the gibbons stand a better chance of surviving and living happily in the forest if they arereleased in a family group, consisting of a bonded couple and offspring.

Feeding and Food Preparation
Gibbons are fed twice a day with leaves and vegetables; such as, cabbage, morning glory, and cucumber, as well as fruits; such as, banana, guava, and sapodilla.Volunteers also help washand cutthe fruits and vegetables, after they are delivered from the local market.
Health Check
Volunteers perform health checks on all the gibbons everyday by observing their faces, eyes, fur, and limbs. Observation on the gibbon’s behaviour and activities are also carried out to see if they are sick, how they interact with their mate, or if they are ready to be released to the forest.
Enrichment Preparation
Enrichments are tools to keep the gibbons active, happy, and entertained, and volunteers can help preparethese items. Examples of the enrichment include yogurt mixed with peanuts and wrapped in banana leaves, and Banana Tube, which is where gibbons use their fingers to get the mashed bananas that were filled in the holes drilled in the banana stalk.
Cage Maintenance
The cages, food baskets, and water holders are cleaned and checked for any damages daily, so the gibbons are living in a clean and healthy environment. Sometimes, volunteersalso help with building new cages, fixing holes in the cages, or making rope and swings for the gibbons to actively move around.
Forest Feeding and Follow Up Data Collection
The soft release method is used when reintroducing the gibbons to the wild, in which the gibbons continueto be fed while adjusting to the new environment until they are able to forage food on their own. Volunteers go into the forest with the staff to feed the released gibbons, and collectthe follow-updata by monitoring their behaviourand activities for several months to ensure that the gibbons are safe and happy.

Example of aDaily Schedule
6.30 a.m.:        Feed the gibbons.
7.30 a.m.:        Breakfast.
8.30 a.m.:        Health check.
9.30 a.m.:        Prepare enrichments.
10.30 a.m.:      Cage maintenance.
12.00 p.m.:      Lunch.
1.00 p.m.:        Feed the gibbons.
·         The above schedule is only an exampleof what is to be expected and is subject to change, depending on the number of volunteers and workload.
·         Volunteers at the GibbonRehabilitation Project work 6 days a week from around 6.30 a.m. until 2.00 p.m., in which they can relax within the premises or visit several of the nearby attractions after the working hours or on their day off.

Nearby Attractions
Namtok Bang Pae
Situated in Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary and just a stone’s throw away from the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, Namtok Bang Pae is Phuket’s largest waterfall. Visitors can enjoy frolicking in the cool water amidst the lush shades of green all year round, as well as spending time exploring the flora and fauna on the nature trails.
Hat Nai Yang
Situated around 20 kilometres from the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project and also a part of theSirinat National Park, Hat Nai Yang is a tranquil beach fringed by casuarina trees. The mesmerising beach with awide stretch of sand is perfect for those who seek an idyllic getaway and true relaxation.
Wat Phra Thong
About a20-minute drive from the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is Wat Phra Thong or the Golden Buddha Temple. The famous temple enshrines a highly revered and partially buried Buddha image called Luangpho Phra Thong or Phra Phut. Legend has it that the Buddha image was found buried inthe ground,and the locals were able to unearth only the upper part of the image. It is believed that whoever tried to remove the Buddha image will be cursed; therefore,the temple was builtaround the Buddha image instead. 
Saphan Sarasin
Saphan Sarasin or Sarasin Bridge, located around 30 kilometres from the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, is the first bridge that was built to connect Phuket Island to the mainland of Phang-nga province in 1967. Nowadays, the 660-metre-long bridge is no longer used as the roadway, but serves as a fantastic viewpoint to watch the sunset. 
GPS Coordinate:N 8° 02.500' E 98° 23.629'
Accommodation:Shared bungalow with other volunteers.
Recommended length of stay:Minimum of 3 weeks is required but longer-term placements are preferable for animal welfare reasons.
Price:6,000 Baht for 3 months.
Remark: Please check with the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project for more information on the prices. The Projectencourages volunteers to stay for a longer period and volunteers who stay for 3 months or longer are required to deposit 20,000 Baht to secure the placement, but 70% of that will be refundable upon completion of the placement. Otherwise, volunteers are required to pay 40,740 Baht for the 3-week placement.
Contact Information:
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (The Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand)
104/3 Mu 3, Tambon Pa Khlok, Amphoe Thalang, Phuket 83110
Tel. +66 7626 0491-2