‘Cha­nee’ on mission to save the gib­bon

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - South Perth -

A CHANCE meet­ing with a gib­bon at a French zoo as a child changed the life of con­ser­va­tion­ist Aure­lien Brule for­ever.

The 35-year-old French­man has since ded­i­cated his life to rais­ing aware­ness of the plight of the world’s dwin­dling rain­forests and en­dan­gered wildlife and he is bring­ing his ex­pe­ri­ences from deep in­side some of South East Asia’s rain­forests to South Perth this week.

Those familiar with Aure­lien’s work may know him by his cho­sen name ‘Cha­nee’ – the Thai name for gib­bons. The name change came about af­ter his first visit to the an­i­mal’s nat­u­ral habi­tat.

Cha­nee had his first work about gib­bons pub­lished at the age of 16 and re­ceived the sup­port of fa­mous French ac­tor Muriel Robin, who en­cour­aged him to leave France and fol­low his pas­sion.

From Thai­land, he ven­tured to In­done­sia in 1998 and es­tab­lished Kalaweit – the only gib­bon con­ser­va­tion pro­gram in that coun­try.

“My fo­cus quickly turned to In­done­sia due to the scale of de­for­esta­tion in that coun­try and its dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects on the na­tive wildlife,” he said.

Since then he has made a TV doc­u­men­tary, au­thored sev­eral books and runs a ra­dio pro­gram to en­cour­age lo­cal res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly in Bor­neo and Su­ma­tra, to help res­cue na­tive an­i­mals.

Ded­i­ca­tion to the cause has been per­ilous at times.

“A few times me and my fam­ily have been threat­ened with knives and other weapons, par­tic­u­larly from log­gers,” he said.

Cha­nee says the aim of his visit to Perth is not about big speeches: “We need to act now. Any small victory to re­duce log­ging and pro­tec­tion of wildlife is im­por­tant.”

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