Although our Siamang Rehabilitation Centre in South Sumatra has only been operational for a few months we now have seven rescued siamang in the quarantine phase, with two more still waiting to be transferred from West Java.
Young rescued siamang in quarantine cages, the first step to rehabilitation and release back to the wild. © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
Although globally siamang may not be one of the best-known gibbon species they are, in fact, one of the most heavily traded primates for the illegal pet trade. This is despite the fact in Indonesia, keeping a protected species, like the siamang, as a pet is punishable by up to five years in prison. Unfortunately, in practice, perpetrators are rarely, if ever, prosecuted and the trade continues largely unabated.
The quarantine area is shaded by trees. © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
Although we wish these beautiful and unique gibbons were not caught up in this cruel trade, we are pleased we can take positive action to rehabilitate animals through our new Siamang Rehabilitation Centre, the first of its kind in South Sumatra.
One aspect of their care that we can improve immediately after they arrive is their diet. Wild animals kept in captivity are often fed inappropriate human food and they can be malnourished, dehydrated, and lacking in important vitamins and minerals. In the wild siamang eat mainly leaves and fruits. Sometimes they eat insects, small vertebrates, and bird eggs too. Our Sumatran keepers prepare fresh fruit and plant material three times a day in the food storage and preparation building at the Centre.
Preparing food for resident siamang. © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
Other aspects of the rehabilitation, such as behavioural issues and re-gaining physical strength, take longer. The large socialisation enclosures and the careful pairing of gibbons are designed to support this phase of their recovery.
As we enter the second half of 2023 The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia team will begin to widen their focus. With the build largely complete, and with a full complement of personnel working full time at the Centre by July, they will begin the development of an educational and awareness-raising programme. The custom-built Information Centre has been prepared with information boards about the project and the plight of siamang, from the illegal pet trade to other major threats, such as habitat loss. It is hoped that the first school visits will be taking place once the children return from their main school holiday later in the summer.
Purpose-built Information Centre. © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
The Aspinall Foundation is working on this project in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of South Sumatra and the Directorate General Conservation of Natural Resources and Its Ecosystem, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia.
We would like to thank the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, the Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia, and DierenPark Amersfoort Wildlife Fund for providing funding support towards some of the costs involved with this project. Without their help, this project would not be possible.