Join our zoo community

Appeal Kalaweit Gibbons of Borneo

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Kifaru Bwana, 12 Jul 2006.

  1. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    25 Jan 2006
    Amsterdam, Holland

    Here is a worthy cause for ARAZPA to follow up.

    International Primate Protection League

    The Kalaweit Gibbon Protection Program
    by Aurelien Brule
    Aurelien Brule is director of the Association Etho-Passion
    which runs the Kalaweit Gibbon Conservation Program in Indonesian Borneo
    August 2001

    Klassi at 3 months
    In 1998 the Etho-Passion Association (E-P), which is based in France, undertook a three-month expedition to Borneo. The Association's mission is to work for the conservation of primates.
    Our goal was to study the status of wild gibbon populations. We first looked around Kalimantan Tengah, the central region of Borneo, at the foot of the Schwaner Mountain Range, and in the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya (BBBR) National Park.

    Following our survey of this area, E-P decided to establish the first program for the conservation of the gibbons of Borneo (the Bornean agile gibbon and the Mueller's gibbon).

    It took seven months to complete the negotiations. The project started on 9 September 1999, in the BBBR National Park. It was named "Kalaweit," which is the word for gibbon in the Dayak Ngaju dialect.

    The main reasons behind the birth of our project were:

    * the shrinkage of gibbon habitat, following the 1997-98 fires on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Two million hectares (50 million acres) of forest were burned, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency,

    * the frequent capture of gibbons destined to became pets and finally,

    * the passivity of the Indonesian authorities in regard to national park protection.

    The Kalaweit program has three elements: gibbon rehabilitation, habitat protection, and education.

    Gibbon Rehabilitation

    E-P works with the local government of Kalimantan Tengah to confiscate gibbons illegally held by private individuals. In 2001, all confiscations at Palangka Raya are conducted in collaboration with the Forest Department and the police.

    Haweit, two years old
    Educational campaigns via FM radio are also conducted in the hope that people will voluntarily surrender their animals, in order to give them a second chance.

    Incoming gibbons are brought to the Nyaru-Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Project clinic operated by the Balikpapan Orangutan Society (BOS) Foundation on a site 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from Palangka Raya. BOS runs the Wanariset Orangutan Reintroduction Project directed by Dr. Willie Smits.

    There the gibbons undergo quarantine and tests for a variety of diseases, including TB and hepatitis. Photos are taken of each animal.

    E-P has designed and plans to test a rehabilitation protocol. Rehabilitation is only possible with young animals. Bringing gibbons to a sanctuary before they are four years old facilitates socialization and formation of couples.

    Rehabilitation of a single gibbon is impossible (the animals will die after attacks by wild gibbons). So we have to work on forming solidly bonded pairs to maximize the gibbons' chances of avoiding and surviving territorial conflicts.

    E-P's protocol involves forming groups of young gibbons, monitoring their relationships, and forming couples. Once pairs are formed, reintroduction of couples is planned. E-P has spacious flight cages for these young gibbons.

    One of the major problems is that many gibbons are over six years old. Therefore other methods must be tried since formation of groups to form pairs is no longer possible.

    E-P is growing slowly. The first confiscations took place in April 2000, with the arrival of three gibbons at our center. One female aged six years old was released close to the center. We hope to release the first pair at the end of this year and monitor its progress.

    Protection of the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park

    Less than 40% of Borneo's primary forest remains. Borneo comprises East Malaysia (which is composed of Sarawak and Sabah), the nation of Brunei, and Kalimantan, which is part of Indonesia.

    Just 30 years ago almost the entire island of Borneo was forested.

    Before we arrived, no authority or organization was charged with protecting the part of the BBBR National Park located in Kalimantan Tengah (about 70% of the park area).

    There is considerable logging inside the park. The biggest meranti trees close to the river are systematically cut down. Since our arrival in September 1999, illegal logging has slowed considerably.

    The local people have the habit of sending the tree trunks downriver to the big towns to sell them. It is an illegal but extremely profitable business. In the economic context of Indonesia, illegal logging has become a threat to all the nation's protected areas.

    Because the Forestry Ministry's Department of Conservation and Protection of Nature (PKA) team is extremely passive in the face of illegal logging in the BBBR National Park, E-P finances and organizes operations to locate and drive out illegal loggers.

    These operations are conducted in cooperation with the Palangka Raya authorities. E-P is also exerting pressure on companies active on the park borders not to enter the protected area.

    Finally, E-P has exposed in the press the passivity and absence of the National Park team. E-P, supported by European groups and individuals, is pushing PKA, requesting that the Forest Department implement a strategy for real protection of BBBR National Park.

    It is estimated by E-P that there are 18,000 agile gibbons in the park and the Worldwide Fund for Nature estimates that there are 301 orangutans.

    Children visit Kalaweit
    Education of local population

    ABOVE ALL, our work is education. We frequently visit all the villages around the national park to explain our activities. The first thing is for Kalaweit to be accepted by the local people before we can think about a meaningful education program. We have to make our mission clear, to reduce peoples' fears.

    Our principal difficulties result from the lack of educational initiatives from Indonesian authorities. Before our arrival, many villages had no idea that the park had national park status, even though the park has existed since 1992! It is therefore a delicate task for E-P, on which we are working alone.

    People are going to have to change their customs and stop killing primates (langur hunting is very common). Villagers find responses to their concerns at the Kalaweit Station, which has three full-time Indonesian staffers, who speak all the local dialects fluently.

    Kalaweit currently has a guest program for children who come from the villages around the national park. Usually the youngsters spend a night at the center. They can observe the gibbons at the rehabilitation center and observe other wild animals, which helps them understand the importance of protecting Indonesia's biodiversity.

    We work in close collaboration with FM radio stations which broadcast all over Kalimantan. We have special programs about the future of primates and forests. Educational messages are regularly recorded and sent out on the airwaves.

    The advantage of this technique of spreading information is that we reach young listeners between 15-25 years of age.

    In cooperation with these radio stations, we teach people not to kill or buy gibbons and not to keep gibbons as pets. E-P prefers using the media for educating the public.

    E-P is producing excellent results, so much so that many animals are voluntarily donated to us, thus reducing the number of confiscations.

    The Future

    The E-P team works hard, but the future of the BBBR National Park rests on the will of Indonesian authorities. The lack of experience in gibbon rehabilitation is also causing us to be very cautious.

    E-P is a small organization based in France, which does not get support from any large organizations or foundations. We are always looking for support and partners. The Kalaweit program has received 20 gibbons so far and we expect the number to double in the next year.

    Please contact us by e-mail at [email protected] if you are interested in becoming a volunteer or require further information. Please stop by our web site:

    Some cause to support! Also as suggested in another forum. Why does the ARAZPA not take on this project indefinitely. In situ conservation, rehabilitation of gibbons and reintroduction in a protected area!

  2. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

    23 Jan 2004
    Wellington , New Zealand
    Kalaweit situation

    Having been lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Borneo , although in Sabah , Brunei , and Sarawak , there are more than just one species of animal that needs assistance . The jungle of Borneo supports hundreds of unique animals that are probably unique to the island , and there are probably more that have yet to be discovered ( the "chameleon snake" has recently made headlines in NZ and Australia )