When the young female Javan gibbon, known as Femi, arrived at our Javan Primate Rehabilitation Centre in March 2018 she was less than two years old. A victim of the illegal pet trade she had been fortunate in one respect - her confiscation in a joint operation by the Balai Besar Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam (BBKSDA)/Nature Conservation Agency of East Java province and Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), meant she had a chance of survival and ultimate release back to the wild.
Like all baby primates it would take time and dedicated care for her to be ready for release. On arrival at our Centre she was stressed, skinny and dehydrated. The first priority was to begin the work that would nurture her back to health. She received an initial health check-up by the team vet before beginning a period in quarantine, which is the start of the rehabilitation programme.
Traumatised baby gibbons require emotional support as well as physical. After post quarantine medical checks the programme involves habituation and interaction with other gibbons as well as good quality nutrition and well-designed enclosures that enable them to develop physical strength and appropriate behaviours.
Now, just over 3 years later, she is at the right stage of development for release into a protected area. Thanks to support from IUCN Save Our Species, our Aspinall Indonesia team released Femi into Mt Tilu Nature Reserve on the 5th June as part of our current two year Javan gibbon project and in celebration of International Environment Day.
Femi was released near the family group of Cheri and Dewi. Cheri was the first rehabilitated gibbon released by the Aspinall Indonesia team at Mt Tilu Nature Reserve in 2014. Since that time Cheri has bonded with wild-born Dewi, and he has sired three babies. It is expected the first-born, now a sub adult male, will accept Femi for his pairing in the wild.
Femi is the 43rd Javan gibbon reintroduction back into the wild since the beginning of the cooperation project between the Ministry of Environmental and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia and The Aspinall Foundation started in 2011. She is also the 5th Javan gibbon release since receiving the support of IUCN Save Our Species for this valuable work to rehabilitate rescued gibbons and reinforce the dwindling populations in the wild.
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.