Six gibbon families have already been moved in the exercise carried out in November last year

The seventh of the 20 gibbon ‘families’ in Dello village in Arunachal Pradesh have been captured and translocated safely to nearby Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary in Lower Debang Valley district. Forest Department and the International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) translocated the gibbon family comprising an adult male, an adult female and a male child on Thursday, officials said on Saturday.

Dr. Nupur Buragohain, IFAW-WTI veterinarian who was a part of the team, said the apes were healthy and fitted with micro-chips for future identification. Stating that this is one of the 20 stranded families living in Dello village, the official said that due to lack of contiguous forests, the gibbons were forced to stray on the ground.

The eastern hoolock gibbons were captured from the village on February 26 and released in Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary the next day with the IFAW-WTI team continuing post-release monitoring, Dr.Buragohain said.

“The family was found in Enzeeno village in an area with absolutely no canopy,” Dr. Kuladeep Roy, Project Lead for IFAW-WTI’s Dibang Valley Conservation Project, said.

Gibbons are seen in tropical and sub-tropical rain forests from northeast India to Indonesia, including the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java. Six gibbon families have already been moved in the last exercise carried out in November last year, they said.

“Capture and translocation are the only hope for the long term welfare of these gibbons. They now have the chance to live in a suitable habitat that is important for the conservation of the species,” Ian Robinson, vice president, Program and International Operations of IFAW, said.

Mehao Wildlife Division (MWD) Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Keijum Rina said, “Such efforts by the IFAW-WTI will go a long way in strengthening the conservation efforts to save eastern hoolock gibbon in Arunachal Pradesh.”

IFAW-WTI regional head Sunil Kyarong said, “The gibbons are totally isolated in these fragmented patches. The only option left for long term conservation plan is to capture and release them in a suitable habitat.”

“I personally support such exercises and feel that it needs to be sustained to secure conducive habitat and home ranges for these gibbons,” project advisor Ipra Mekola said.