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Osterberg P.,The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project | Samphanthamit P.,The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project | Maprang O.,The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project | Punnadee S.,Khemmarat Animal Shelter | And 2 more authors.
American Journal of Primatology | Year: 2015

We summarize the results from a long-term gibbon reintroduction project in Phuket, Thailand, and evaluate its benefits to conservation. Between October 2002 and November 2012, eight breeding families of white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar) were returned to the wild in Khao Phra Thaew non-hunting area (KPT). Wild gibbons were extirpated from Phuket Island by the early 1980s, but the illegal wildlife trade has continued to bring young gibbons from elsewhere to the island's popular tourist areas as pets and photo props. The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) has rescued and rehabilitated confiscated and donated captive gibbons since 1992 and aims to repopulate the island's last sizable forest area. Following unsuccessful early attempts at translocation in the 1990s, GRP has now developed specific methods for gibbon reintroduction that have led to the establishment of a small independent, reproducing population of captive-raised and wild-born gibbons on Phuket. Eleven infants have been born wild within the reintroduced population, including a second generation wild-born gibbon in September 2012. Benefits of the GRP project include restoration of the gibbon population on Phuket, rescue of illegally kept gibbons, public education, training of personnel in gibbon conservation work, and gaining experience which may prove useful in saving more severely threatened species. It is unlikely that gibbon (and other large primate) translocations will make a significant contribution to conservation of the species as a whole, and primate translocation projects should not be judged solely by this criterion. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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