Endangered Hoolock gibbon under care at the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Center in India
An infant western Hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) rescued from Borgaon near Dibru Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary late last week, was admitted to the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Center in India last week for hand-raising and possible rehabilitation. The mother of the gibbon was found dead.
Dr Abhijit Bhawal, veterinarian of the IFAW-WTI Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) in Upper Assam, assisted the Assam Forest Department during the gibbon’s rescue. It was kept by a local household for about a day. After persuasion, the local family, who had planned to raise the gibbon themselves, handed it over to the authorities.
The gibbon was immediately stabilized in the MVS field station in Dibru Saikhowa WLS, before it was transferred to rescue center.
“The gibbon is 3-4 month-old male, and is dependent on milk for food. The mother had perhaps died about 9-10 days ago. We saw the carcass, but as it was putrefied the cause of death could not be ascertained,” Dr Bhawal said. “The infant gibbon must have been really hungry when the local family found it near the mother’s carcass, screaming…” Dr. Prasanta Boro, one of the center’s vets, said that the gibbon is weak, perhaps due to lack of food, and that it was in a state of trauma. ‘We are not sure how long it went without food after its mother died. At the moment, we are feeding it with vitamins and mineral-enriched milk formula, but it is not taking food as a normal young gibbon would. It seems to be emotionally disturbed, almost depressed.”
The Hoolock gibbon is the only ape found in India, with its distribution localized in the northeastern states. Extremely agile arboreal primates, the Indian population, comprising two species – western Hoolock gibbon and eastern Hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys), is threatened by habitat fragmentation caused by jhum cultivation and mining, among other reasons. They also face persecution for trade.