GUWAHATI, March 8 – With the objective of disseminating information on hoolock gibbons, India’s only ape which is endemic to the Northeast, environmental NGO Aaranyak is organizing a series of ‘Training of Forest Guard for the Conservation of Hoolock Gibbon in Assam’. The species of hoolock gibbons – the western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) and the eastern hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedyes) – are distributed in northeast India. Their distribution in India is limited to the seven States of the Northeast on the southern bank of the Dibang-Brahmaputra river system.
The eastern hoolock gibbon is confined to Arunachal Pradesh in the districts of Lohit, Dibang Valley and Changlang. In Assam, the eastern hoolock gibbon is restricted to the reserve forests of Sadiya subdivision only.
Habitat fragmentation and hunting have been the major threats to gibbons in India. Added to this situation is the lack of basic information and poor conservation awareness about the species in different sections of the people, including the frontline staff of the forest department, which is yet another major hindrance in the conservation of the species. The forest guards who actually work in the field are unaware about the various facets of hoolock gibbon conservation strategy.
Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary (commonly known as Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary) in Jorhat district of Assam is the only protected area in India to be named after a primate species. The sanctuary with seven species of primates, including the western hoolock gibbon, is an area with one of the highest primate diversity in the country. The western hoolock gibbon is one of the two apes found in Assam which is distributed only on the southern bank of the Brahamaputra.
In 2004, the Gibbon Conservation Centre, a field station of Aaranyak was established with a mission of carrying out research, training and conservation activities in the Northeast for primates research and conservation.
Aaranyak and Gibbon Conservation Centre in collaboration with the Assam Forest Department and with financial support from the US Fish & Wildlife Service have organized training programme for the forest guard of Assam in five batches during the year 2015.
The training will be imparted to each batch consisting of 20 participants and the duration of the course is weeklong residential. A wide range of related topics, including biodiversity in the Northeast and conservation, primates conservation in the Northeast with special reference to gibbon, gibbon census or population estimation, gibbon data collection, maintaining and reporting, techniques of floristic study, gibbon habitat characteristic and restoration, population and habitat monitoring, gibbon rescue and rehabilitation, global positioning system and its use in field and legal orientation, wildlife laws and their application will be covered during the training.
This course will provide participants with an initial understanding of the basic principles of primatology, experience with the methods and techniques used in field research, socioeconomic study and visit to the fringe villages. The course consists of daily lectures and field exercises.