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On Phuket Island, there are still a few pieces of tropical rain forest left. One is near Bang Pae Waterfall,
shown above. It certainly is worth the while to go there and walk to
the waterfall. To get there, coming form anywhere on the island, head
for Thalang, then go to the monument of the Heroines of Phuket and take road 4027 northbound from there. (Or ask your taxi driver to bring you there).
Near the entrance of the area you will find a very small, but enthusiastically lead, project: The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. Here white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar) - and other types of gibbons - that have been maltreated as a "tourist attraction" are being made ready for their return into Nature. Sadly not even the area near the Project is not safe to let them free. Even there the danger is too great that they are being caught again, so you can not enjoy their presence there. They are being released in the woods near the Project and are kept under control there.
Do not expect a kind of zoo there. The gibbons living there have to be "de-humanified", so you can see them in their (large) cages, but only from a distance. Nevertheless you can see them and enjoy their beautiful singing. In the meantime you can read about the project and donate money to it, for example by buying articles, or by "adopting" one or more of the gibbons.
This is the "front desk" of the GRP. You will only see
volunteers there. Most of them are foreign. But do not think that they
get free air tickets or large amounts of money for expenses, because
they get noting but the pleasant company of the gibbons!
You might even overlook the entrance of this small project. It is more or less hidden in wood. Look for the sign, and walk a few steps up to the desk.
The gibbons you will see in the Project area are white handed gibbons, the extremely beautiful ones with a white circle of hair around their face and white hair on the top of their hands and feet. They are most wanted by illegal catchers, because of their rare beauty. You can see them on someof the pictures on this page.
Right below this piece of text you can get a better look at two different types gibbons, pictured in Dusit Zoo in Bangkok. Be stunned about the extreme beauty and expressiveness of these cousins of yours!
Whenever you see a gibbon during your visit to Thailand in such circumstances, PLEASE inform the GRP. You can find their address, telephone number and further details at the bottom of this page!
When gibbons become around seven years old, they should become
sexually active and they become difficult to handle. This is the stage
when they are being "dumped" or even killed by their (unlawful!)
owners. Or sometimes they are being put in a small cage or chained,
which makes it impossible for them to move as they should in Nature.
You can compare this situation with life in prison, but in this case a much too small prison to survive properly.
The GRP on Phuket tries to save gibbons from this situation. For that reason it deserves your support!
But do not think that this is all the harm that is being done to gibbons. Far from it. The catching of a gibbon is one of the worst acts. As you should understand, a gibbon mother will not hand over her baby voluntarily to humans, so the "normal practice" to catch a young gibbon is to shoot its mother first. And sometimes other gibbons will try to save the young baby, so behind one young gibbon caught for "pleasure" you can see the dead ghosts of one to four adult gibbons.
Would your wife hand over your baby to a group of apes voluntarily? So how would you like your wife (and yourself and other companions) to be killed by a group of apes, because they would like to own a small human for their entertainment? This is the way you should look at the illegal capturing of gibbons.
We, from Hasekamp Net, did the last mentioned thing: We adopted two gibbons, Dongrak and Endoo, shown on the pictures above in November 2000. We extended the adoption
for another year in 2001 and once more in 2002. Since then - sadly - we
did not hear from the GRP on expiration of our adoption, but we renewed
our adoption of Dongrak once more, and made a donation for Endoo, during our visit to Phuket in December 2004.
During that visit to the GRP we heard that the rehabilitation of Dongrak cannot succeed. He does - even after several years at the GRP - not socialize with other (female) gibbons and therefore cannot live in the wild again. He consequently has to spend the rest of his life in captivity.
Dongrak, therefore, is an example of a gibbon that has been maltreated by humans for so long, that he cannot live like a gibbon any more.
In 2008 we heard at the GRP that although it had been tried to release Dongrak in the wild, near the center, he died some time after that.The center then found that Endoo could not be released in the wild. So now she has to spend the rest of her life at the GRP.
We decided in 2008 to adopt a different young gibbon, that may have a chance to be released in the wild in the future. She was confiscated from a photographer in Patong and her given name is Songkran, because she came in the center on Songkran day in 2004. Her picture is just below this piece of text.
Please give your support!
If you really think you should own a gibbon, buy one like this! We bought it at Central Department Store in Bangkok. It was no longer available there in 2004, but at the GRP you can buy an even larger and more beautiful one for a (donation of) 700 Baht (price: 2008). You will do no harm to Nature if you buy one, and enjoy its company, like we do!
Download a free screen saver with gibbon pictures as photographed in Korat (Nakhon Rachasima) Zoo.
More pictures of gibbons