Gibbons are considered the most endangered great apes in the world. In particular, the loss of habitat, but also the excessive trade as a fancy food or as a supposed medicine makes the gibbon stocks very difficult. In addition, young gibbons are coveted pets. Gibbon mothers are killed in order to subsequently offer the helpless offspring on pet markets.
The natural habitats of the gibbons are increasingly being destroyed by deforestation, road construction and agricultural land use. The Gibbon groups often lack alternative options that meet their requirements for a suitable habitat.
Gibbons are under massive threat from illegal hunting. Rising sales prices for traditional Chinese medicine or the pet trade are intensifying the hunt for rare wild animals. The poachers penetrate ever deeper into the forests, as many animal species in the peripheral areas have already been eradicated.
Those who want to protect gibbons outdoors have to deal with these problems. A difficult undertaking! The species conservation campaign "Zoo Animal of the Year 2019" supports two important Gibbon conservation projects. On the one hand, a project in Laos in whose sphere of activity two gibbon species live, and on the other hand, a project that is committed to the preservation of gibbons in Vietnam.
In Laos, the Nakai-Nam Theun National Reserve with 3,500 km² is one of the last large contiguous forest areas on the Indochinese peninsula. It is home to numerous endemic and endangered species. Northern (Nomascus leucogenys) and southern white-cheeked gibbons (Nomascus siki) live here.
"Project Anoulak" means help for the rare animal species in Laos. To reduce illegal poaching, 24 trained rangers patrol the forest in carefully selected areas, supported by the local government agency.
The project team conducts field research to understand the way of life of the native animal species and to define their distribution area in order to implement the best possible protective measures.
The "Project Anoulak" also attaches great importance to environmental education for the next generation and wants to acquire a certain pride in the unique biodiversity of the region by educating the local population.
Around 800 of the endangered Northern Yellow-cheeked Gibbons (Nomascus annamensis) still live in Central Vietnam. Their habitat in the mountainous forests is threatened by deforestation, fragmentation and pillaging.
The aim is to protect the gibbons' habitat on a large scale and thus ensure their survival in the long term. On the one hand, two existing protected areas are to be connected to one another and another large and previously unexplored forest area is to be added. In addition to the gibbons, the latter houses what is probably the largest population of the extremely endangered gray-legged mantle. The result of the measures is a Gibbon protected area of over 120,000 ha and a real milestone in the conservation of these species.
In addition, rangers receive improved training to protect the gibbons from poaching. Through targeted monitoring, not only the gibbon stocks are recorded, but also cases of poaching are identified and followed up together with the responsible authorities.
The population is made aware of gibbon protection through environmental education, public relations and cooperation with local schools. The local population is closely involved in all measures and decisions. This is the only way to successfully protect the gibbons.
More information is available on the Zoo Animal of the Year homepage