Finding a way back into the gibbon community

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 November, 2008, 12:00am
 

At the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, I learned about the plight of the little creatures, and what we can do to help them.

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) was set up in 1992 by Poppadum Preuksawan, the chief of the Royal Forest Department in Phuket, Thavorn Sri-Oon, Bang Pae sub-station chief, the Asian Wildlife Fund and American zoologist Terrance Dillon Morin.

In 1994, the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (Warf) began to support the project, and it has now become a research division of Warf.

Warf has since operated as an all-volunteer animal rescue team. Before that, its founders, Leonie and Pongsagdi Vejjajiva, ran a small sanctuary at their home in Bangkok for more than 10 years.

At the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, displays and bulletin boards educate the public on gibbons and the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand.

Poachers shoot mother gibbons to capture the babies, and only one in three babies survive. The poachers sell them and they usually are confined in small cages, stunting their growth, before winding up in bars being taunted by tourists and forced to drink alcohol and smoke. Many are used to lure tourists to take photographs to make money and are treated badly by their owners.

When the gibbons reach sexual maturity, they can become aggressive and their owners usually kill or abandon them.

It is illegal to keep gibbons as pets in Thailand, but many locals still do it. Gibbons that are rescued undergo medical treatment at the rehabilitation centre and are helped to socialise with other gibbons.

The aim is to help the gibbons socialise with their own kind, with the hope some day they will have a family and can be released back into the forest. For more information, go to www.gibbonproject.org or www.warthai.org

Helen Miao is Young Post's chief sub-editor

Ways you can help

Do not take pictures with gibbons. If you do, you are encouraging the illegal trade in endangered species.

Adopt a gibbon. It's really not a lot of money for a whole year.

Make a donation.

Spread the word among your friends.

Play your part in protecting wildlife and their habitats.

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