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Interpol : A journey to the Indonesian rain forest

A journey to the Indonesian rain forest

Indonesia’s Javan Gibbon at Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park

Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry runs a reintroduction program in more than 50 national parks to boost the  survival of endangered species.  Six of its parks are World Heritage Sites, eight others are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and six are wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar convention. Nine other national parks focus on endangered marine species and are coast-situated.

Declared part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1977 by UNESCO, Gunung Gede Pangrango Park is one of these national parks.  Ranger-protected territory centred on two volcanoes, Mount Gede and Mount Pangrango, the 230 km2 of territory barely an hour from the busy Indonesian capital is natural host to a vast number of endemic protected species.

Animals which inhabit the park in protected freedom include endemic leopards, porcupines, badgers and deer. In addition to protecting the park and it’s flora and fauna from poachers, the park runs several rehabilitation centres for a number of endangered endemic species.  Animals are rescued, nurtured and ultimately reintroduced into their natural habitat through a species-adapted rehabilitation and reintegration process.

Gunung Gede Pangrango Park is home to the last surviving Silvery Gibbons, a primate endemic to Indonesia and which is verging on extinction.

Saving the Javan Gibbon

The Javan Gibbon – also called ‘Owa Jawa’ or Silvery  Gibbon – is one of the most endangered of all gibbon species. Endemic to the western part of Java island, Owa Jawa has the two classic enemies inherent to most endangered species: loss of its natural habitat and the illegal domestic pet trade.

Although protected by Indonesia’s wildlife act and listed in Appendix I of CITES, the Silvery Gibbon’s population has fallen dramatically over the past decade.  With little more than 4% of its natural habitat remaining, the 4,500  remaining animals live almost exclusively in national parks.

Zimboo (see photo gallery) is one of the park’s rehabilitation residents. Captured as an infant and forced into captivity where she was the victim of frequent brutality and ill-nutrition, she was rescued by wardens and brought to the rehabilitation centre three years ago in a state of near-death.   The objective of Zimboo’s momentary captivity is to help her relearn her primal behavior with a view to reintroducing her to her natural habitat.

“It is not too late for our Javan gibbon. I have seen many be successfully reintroduced into their natural habitat here since 2009 and I really believe we will live side by side again one day, each in our natural environment” commented Ida Rohaida, Chief Park Ranger at Gunung Gede Pangrango.

“The survival of gibbons and forests are mutually connected.  Gibbons serve a vital role in forest ecosystems as they disperse seeds throughout the forest which keeps them permanently regenerated.  Gibbons need forests as their home – if our rainforest disappears, so do the gibbons. That is our job here as Rangers: to protect them both so they can continue their lives together’ added Rohaida

Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park rangers are police officers who patrol the 230 km2 park 24 hours a day to keep its inhabitants safe. They have police training and powers, enforcing national laws as well as park regulations.

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