As part of an ambitious rewilding project in the forest surrounding the iconic Angkor Wat, a pair of Endangered pileated gibbons was released last week by APSARA, the Forestry Administration (FA), and conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance.
This is the third pair of pileated gibbons that have been successfully released into the forest since the project started in 2013.
Cambodia is the world stronghold for the pileated gibbon, but habitat destruction and capture for the illegal wildlife trade jeopardizes the species listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, mainland Southeast Asia’s last unfragmented rainforest under the protection of Wildlife Alliance – Ministry of Environment rangers, holds the largest known population of pileated gibbons.
Nick Marx, Wildlife Alliance’s Director of Wildlife Rescue & Care, said, “There are very few forests in Cambodia that can offer such high levels of protection for wildlife. The forests surrounding Angkor Wat are a perfect habitat and offer a much needed safe haven for this persecuted species.”
Poachers will shoot adult gibbons for their meat, and sell their offspring into the illegal wildlife trade as pets.
Since their establishment, Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team have rescued around 70,000 animals from Cambodia’s illegal wildlife trade.
The NGO has also released smooth-coated otters, Indian muntjac, common palm civets, and silvered langurs into the forest around the temples of Angkor as part of the project.
“So far our project to restore wildlife to Angkor has proceeded very well and cooperation with APSARA and FA has been excellent. Our aim is to continue this collaboration and release further appropriate species in the future.”
Wildlife Alliance and APSARA will continue to monitor the gibbons to ensure that they thrive in their new home.