Femi (July 2022), released at Mt Tilu on 5th June 2021 © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
In August 2022, we reached the 24-month stage of our Mt Tilu Javan gibbon rehabilitation and release project co-funded by IUCN Save our Species. This was scheduled to be the end of our collaboration with IUCN, but their support has been extended until the end of 2022 to enable us to complete some of our project targets which have been affected by the various restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As we reported in our blog post of 7th June, one of the main delays has been the repatriation of UK gibbons to Java. This remains an ongoing issue which we are working to resolve in the next few weeks. In the meantime, our team in Java continue their work of rescue and rehabilitation at our Javan Primate Rehabilitation Centre, as well as maintaining a monitoring and release programme at Mt Tilu Nature Reserve.
Weather Conditions at Mt Tilu, February 2022 © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
At certain times of the year the monitoring of released gibbons at Mt Tilu can be very difficult for the team, as weather conditions can significantly reduce visibility. The gibbons are also less active when it is foggy or raining. However, the team continue to gather as much information as they can on the behavioural patterns of the gibbons.
Often gibbons are released in pairs, but some of our recent releases have been individual young adults, as our monitoring has shown that paired gibbons quite often separate once they have adjusted to their new surroundings. Several of these individual releases have resulted in a pairing with a gibbon from the existing wild population as was the case with Goku. Released in October 2021, she was soon attracting the attention of a wild male and, after several weeks of getting to know each other whilst Goku remained near the release site, the pair have now moved deeper into the forest.
Goku with Wild Male Gibbon, February 2022 ©The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
Sadly, gibbons, along with other primates, continue to be taken from the wild for the illegal wildlife trade. In the past year, our Javan Primate Rehabilitation Centre has seen several young primates come into their care. Most of the babies have been Javan langurs, but a male gibbon, no more than 5 months old, was brought to the Centre in April 2022. He has been named Krisna. For the first few weeks, Krisna cried for his mother much of the time, and he has been receiving intensive support to improve his health and to ensure he is properly nourished. He is still vulnerable, but we are hopeful that a few years from now we will be reporting on his release back to the wild.
Rescued Baby Gibbon, Krisna © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
Krisna’s chance of survival without specialist care would have been negligible. Raising awareness and education is a key element of stopping this dreadful trade in wildlife, and it forms a key component of our Mt Tilu project.
The restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic created problems for many group activities. Our team in Indonesia continued community activities wherever possible and created new online content for schools, but as the situation is improving, they are able to carry out more ‘face to face’ awareness raising and educational work.
Awareness-raising March 2022 © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
University students continue to work on the project and are often involved with the monitoring teams. Activities for younger school children are also increasing, with a group of 50 children able to learn more about the conservation and protection of their native habitat and the wildlife it supports during a visit in May. More are planned for later this year.
University Students Participating in Monitoring © The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia
This project is co funded by IUCN Save Our Species. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of The Aspinall Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN.