Western hoolock gibbons moved to prepare for release to wild

The gibbons will be kept in adjoining compartments of a cage up in the forest canopy and monitored by a biologist over the next month. SubhamoyBhattacharjee/IFAW-WTITwo western hoolock gibbons under long-term care at the Wildlife Rescue Centre jointly run by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Assam Forest Department were recently shifted to an acclimatisation site in the adjoining Panbari Reserve Forest.

This is first step in the gibbons’ soft release protocol; they will eventually be released back into the wild in the Kaziranga-KarbiAnglong landscape.

Karbi, the male, was rescued by the forest department from Diphu, KarbiAnglong in February 2013 and Morioni, the female, was rescued from Makum in the Tinsukia district of Assam. Having closely monitored their health and behaviour in recent months, the veterinary team decided that they were ready to be shifted to the Panbari Reserve Forest, which is connected to the KarbiAnglong hills and is a good gibbon habitat. 

Dr Samshul Ali chemically immobilised Karbi with a blow pipe and Morioni was trapped under Dr Panjit Basumatary’s supervision. “After getting the requisite permission from the forest department, we shifted the gibbon pair to a cage up in the forest canopy so that they can be habituated to their new environment,” said Dr Basumatary.

Veterinarian Dr Samshul Ali gives the female hoolock gibbon a check-up prior to her transfer to the acclimatisation site. Photo: Subhamoy Bhattacharjee/IFAW-WTI

The animals have both been fitted with a silver earring for identification in the wild. They are being kept in adjoining compartments of the cage, able to observe and interact with one another, and will be monitored by a biologist over the next month,” he said.

Eventually, if their condition is sound and their behaviour suggests sufficient adaptation to the forest environment, they will be released into the wild together.



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