Apes from wildlife park re­leased back into the wild

An­i­mal park in­tro­duces Kent-reared gib­bons to the wild for the first time

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - News -

They were born at a wild an­i­mal park near Can­ter­bury, but a fam­ily of gib­bons is now start­ing a new life more than 7,000 miles away in their nat­u­ral habi­tat in In­done­sia.

Their re­lo­ca­tion is part of Howletts’ aim to put en­dan­gered species back into the wild in spe­cially pro­tected ar­eas.

The six gib­bons – four males and a fe­male with her two-yearold daugh­ter – are now in a pri­mate re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre near Ban­dung in Java.

Their progress will be mon­i­tored by keep­ers for sev­eral months un­til they are ready to be re­leased into the sur­round­ing for­est.

Gib­bons face a ma­jor habi­tat threat of de­for­esta­tion in Java due to log­ging, agri­cul­ture and de­vel­op­ment. Ju­ve­niles are also of­ten caught to be sold il­le­gally as pets.

Damian Aspinall, chair­man of the Aspinall Foun­da­tion, which or­gan­ised the move, said: “This is in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing for us.

“We are the only con­ser­va­tion char­ity do­ing this vi­tal work to save en­dan­gered Ja­van gib­bons from ex­tinc­tion.

“While our breed­ing sanc­tu­ar­ies, Howletts and Port Lympne Wild An­i­mal Parks in the UK, are renowned for suc­cess­fully rais­ing these gib­bons in cap­tiv­ity, we have been un­able to in­tro­duce them to the wild un­til now.

“The re­sults of our pi­o­neer­ing re­search mean we can now give these in­cred­i­ble an­i­mals a safe life in the wild, where they be­long.”

He added: “Our work in Java is cru­cial to the sur­vival of the Ja­van gib­bon.

“This in­cred­i­ble species faces ex­tinc­tion in the next 20 years, un­less proper con­ser­va­tion ac­tion is taken.

“It is our guid­ing phi­los­o­phy that we must, wher­ever pos­si­ble, re­turn an­i­mals to pro­tected ar­eas of their nat­u­ral habi­tat and work with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and gov­ern­ments to en­sure we safe­guard wilder­ness ar­eas around the world for these rein­tro­duc­tion projects to con­tinue.”

‘Our work in Java is cru­cial to the sur­vival of the Ja­van gib­bon’

Pic­tures: Howletts

Six gib­bons born at Howletts are now in a pri­mate re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in Java

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