Chiang Mai, Thailand (Vocus) September 15, 2010
The first White-Handed Gibbon of Flight of the Gibbon Conservation Project was born in the Mae Takrai National Park, near Chiang Mai, Thailand, on February 23. This is a major success for the Gibbon Conservation Project and raises hopes of a stable, established population in Thailand’s rain forests.
The in the wild birth of the White-Handed Gibbon is the first in this particular rain forest in more than forty years, as predators and poachers have wiped out the Gibbon population in the region. The gender of the baby Gibbon was unknown for quite some time as the mother, Tong Lord (Golden Straw), and father, Tong Dee (Good Gold), maintained a cautious distance from their caretakers who had photographed the baby clinging to the mother’s neck in the rain forest canopy. There was great surprise when Kuhn Maitee sighted the pregnant Gibbon, he had helped rehabilitate the Gibbons, and has maintained a close relationship with them in their natural habitat. “We were very excited and surprised when we saw Tong Lord pregnant,” said Khun Maitee. “Initially we did not know if the newborn was a boy or girl because we did not want to get too close. When Tong Lord was ready, she showed us the baby and it was a boy!” he said.
The founders of Flight of the Gibbon were, at one time, just a group of nature lovers who spent their weekends on conservation projects in the mountains of Thailand. In 2004, they were taking pictures of Gibbons in Doi Intanon National Park. Someone in the group noticed some Gibbon remains. The guide said it looked like poachers had killed the mother to capture the baby. Among the adult remains were some smaller bones that were from her unborn fetus.
Then, one day in late 2007, the same group of nature enthusiasts found Tong Dee and Tong Lord abandoned and near death on the side of the road. They were still locked in a cage and were without food or water. The founders knew they had to find a way get them back into the wild and keep them protected. They established “Flight of the Gibbon” with a very clear mission: the protection of Asian wildlife.
After their rescue, Tong Lord and Tong Dee began their rehabilitation at a site that resembled their natural habitat. Having spent most, if not all of their lives in a cage, they needed to learn how to look after themselves in the wild. Their caretakers promoted independence in their day-to-day activities, including foraging and co-habitation, in order to prepare them for eventual release last year. Gibbons only ever have one mate so the pair’s survival in the wild and the birth of the baby Gibbon are cause for major celebration.
In January 2009, Tong Lord and Tong Dee were released into the Mai Takrai National Park. On February 23, they gave birth in the wild to a healthy son. Thanks to our customers’ participation in Flight of the Gibbon, their offspring will never have to see the inside of a poacher’s cage. The Gibbon Release program, which has been in operation for 2 years, is a joint venture between Flight of the Gibbon, (Thailand’s most popular adventure tour company) and the Thai government.
The Gibbons are closely monitored and protected from poachers and intruders by guards who patrol the perimeter of the Gibbon’s environment twenty-four hours a day. “We are delighted with this great news,” said Flight of the Gibbon Conservation Program Director, Nicolas Shahin. “As a company, Flight of the Gibbon is committed to re-establishing the Gibbon population in its natural habitat. The baby Gibbon birth vindicates this vision and gives hope for the future. We are really proud of the work we do, not only with the Gibbon Release Program, but with our on-going work in environmental conservation and restoration,” he said.
Flight of the Gibbon is now the leading global eco-adventure tour operator with their phenomenal rain forest zip-lines that are the longest, highest and fastest in the world. Now the number one tourist attraction in Thailand, Flight of the Gibbon invests 10% of their profits in primate re-habilitation, re-forestation projects and has now launched the Gibbon Basecamp Ecological Education and Training Programs.
Learn more about the Flight of the Gibbon Adventure Tours at Tree Top Asia.