Cambodia is home to 10 different types of gibbons, unfortunately, 9 of those are endangered, which is why many wildlife organizations are now trying to conserve, save and replenish the population of gibbons.
A Gibbon is an ape-like creature that commonly resides in tropical jungle regions from Bangladesh to the Java region of Indonesia. Gibbons are known as lesser apes, which is slightly different from the greater ape species such as Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
The Gibbon is more resembling of the monkey species as they have no tail. Gibbons are well renowned throughout the tropical jungles as being one of the fastest non-flying animals with speeds of up to 55 kph (34 mph) as they use their long, lanky arms to swing amongst the branches and trunks in the jungle.
Distribution in Cambodia
They are most commonly found in the Cambodian Provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri (which border on the East side of the country with Vietnam), as well as the northern area of Preah Vihear Province (north of Siem Reap). Ratanakiri has been known to have the densest population of gibbons in the world in the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area.
It has become quite the tourist attraction to do jungle treks and search for these animals. The Yellow Cheeked Crested Gibbon is found in these provinces and is a favourite amongst tourists for its famously loud calls which echo for kilometres throughout the jungle.
Tourism revolving around seeing gibbons in their natural habitat and volunteering in gibbon conservation is getting ever more popular. Many people will come from all parts of the world to attempt a jungle trek in different provinces around Cambodia.
Some treks can be up to ten days, of which the willing trekkers are always guaranteed to get a glimpse and hear these amazing creatures. This is not a free experience but companies hosting tours will use most of the money generated from tourism for furthering the conservation efforts to continue replenishing their populations, and also reintroducing the species to areas they have once been extinct from.
Re-population of Cambodia’s Gibbons
A company named Flight of the Gibbon is funded by the Wildlife Alliance of Cambodia at one of their headquarters at the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap. Their task was to reintroduce a native species of gibbon to the area where they were previously extinct. This took place in December 2013 and in July of 2014, remarkably one mother gave birth to the first baby gibbon believed to be born in the area for over a century.
This was a massive win for both the Wildlife Alliance of Cambodia and the Flight of the Gibbon conservation group. This was groundbreaking and a great stepping stone in returning gibbons back to their traditional lands.
The reason the gibbon is so in need of being repopulated and relocated back to traditional areas is, unfortunately like so many different animal species around the world they are in the crossfire of humans want of destroying the rainforests and poaching. Gibbons have been considered endangered in Cambodia since the end of 2016. While in the past and currently still in some areas of Cambodia, gibbons are considered food for the people. This is not the most prominent threat to the gibbons.
The number one threat to gibbons in Cambodia and Worldwide is deforestation, a theme that is getting too common. China in the past had a large population, but estimates are that nearly 99% of gibbons have been wiped out through deforestation, hunting for food, use in traditional medicine and people wanting to have them as pets.
Unfortunately, to do this a mother must be shot down from the treetops to acquire an offspring, a lot of the time the mother or both of them will suffer fatal injuries in the process.
Gibbons in Cambodia is a must-see for tourists and locals alike. These are amazing creatures that are slowly getting the assistance they need to rejuvenate their masses throughout Cambodia. The future is looking promising for these lesser apes and hopefully, it will only be a matter of time before everybody will be able to see them strive again.