Ticket to Freedom – Returning Gibbons home
One of the less pleasant aspects of the tourist industry worldwide is the exploitation of wild animals.
On the face of it, posing with a cute baby animal for that memorable holiday photo seems harmless enough until you start to question how that animal came to be there sharing the same space and time as you in a totally alien environment, being made to behave in a totally unnatural way, often by the use of drugs, or physical abuse.
And what happens afterwards, when they are too big to be cute, or too unruly to be controlled any longer? What then?
Most people turn their back on these uncomfortable questions, but thankfully some do not, and a dedicated example of that is the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation Thailand’s (WARF) Gibbon Rehabilitation Project - GRP (http://www.gibbonproject.org/). Hailed as the most successful Gibbon Rehabilitation project in the world, GRP have dedicated the last twenty years – yes twenty years to rehabilitating abused Gibbons to the point where they can be released back into the wild in a sustainable way.
Based on the holiday island of Phuket the project has taken the bold step to expand its programme from Phuket to the mountains of Northern Chiang Mai. Generations ago, the distinctive call of the Gibbons sounded out over the valleys of the Lanna Kingdom, until they were hunted to extinction there.
Simply opening the cage and wishing the Gibbons well in the wild does not work. There is a very long and hard learnt process taking up to five years from the arrival of a Gibbon in a petrified traumatized state, to its reintegration into Gibbon society, bonding with a mate, hopefully starting a family and then released into the wild, with several years follow up while in the wild to ensure they are healthy and coping well.
GRP where able to find a village – Baan Pang Champee - in the foothills of Doi Saket eager to be the guardians of the Gibbons inside Mae On, a Mae Trakrai National Park.
The participation and education of the local villagers is essential to the future success of the Gibbon population.
Detailed surveys of the flora and fauna there, have led the GRP scientists to believe that this would be a very sustainable environment to reintroduce Gibbons back into the wild. In the words of the villagers, “The rivers and forests of our home are not alive unless we hear the call of the Gibbons.”With the help of the Thai General Aviation community and other volunteers, an airlift has begun to complete the Gibbons journey to freedom, transporting them from the project center in Phuket, to Chiang Mai, a journey of over 1,000 Km. The cost of the flights has been generously paid for by the flying community in Thailand.
Some thirty Gibbons, in family pairs are set to begin this final chapter in their long journey to freedom, but we need help.
Will you buy a ticket to freedom for a Gibbon?
Even with volunteers, and the subsidized flights, it still costs around USD 1,500 – THB 45,000 for each Gibbon to complete this journey to freedom. So far five Gibbons have been moved to Chiang Mai, with the first family pair set to be released into the forest during June 2014. This is our chance to put things right, undo some of the damage and suffering we as a species have caused our fellow planet dwellers.
Please help us to complete this wonderful story.
Project Progress: http://www.gibbonproject.org/gibbon-rehabilitation-project-chiang-mai
Our main website: http://www.warthai.org
Donation can be made to our papal or Bank Account at:
Kasikorn Bank , Thanon Suthep Branch, Chiang Mai
Account Name: The Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand For GRPC
Account No. : 471-2-38244-4 . Swift Code. : K A S I T H B K