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Endangered Cousins you've never heard of: save the Gibbons!

Updated on December 30, 2014

Up to this point, my blog has been mostly dedicated to travel and the study of indigenous peoples-- two things I love dearly. But a third thing that I love, which is closely related to the first two, is nature! Particularly the beautiful sights and majestic wildlife that exist throughout the entire world. That's why I've decided to adapt my blog to accommodate nature and conservation awareness in addition to my regular topics.

Now, to tell you about these adorable creatures I've only just discovered myself.

Some Things you should Know about the Character Above. And over here ->

Well they're adorable. So there's that.

They're also the quickest and most agile of all non-flying, tree-dwelling animals on the planet. Their primary mode of transportation is basically Tarzan on a sugar high, swinging from tree to tree at speeds of up to 55 km/h! Unfortunately at this speed, a misplaced hand or a weakened branch can cause an accident pretty quickly for a hyper gibbon, but they're quite tough.

Gibbons are well known for their singing voices. The voice of a fully grown gibbon, nearly half the size of a grown man, can be up to twice as loud, and heard from a kilometre away! This is due to enlarged throat sacks that serve as resonating chambers for the sound. Paired gibbon mates often perform duets to establish their territory, with the young join in on occasion. Their voices are also used in solos as mating calls or territorial calls.

Gibbons are incredibly social animals, as you might have gotten from the duets and mating calls. While they tend to form very strong family units, it's apparent that a larger hierarchical social system is in place in locations where gibbons are plentiful-- though these locations are becoming increasingly harder to find.

Gibbons are descended from the same Great Apes as humans and other primate species, making them our relatively close cousins. If you're not moved by the sheer sadness of losing this adorable and interesting creature forever, you have to at least admit that it's a great loss for science-- we can learn so much about ourselves by studying the gibbons.

So the most important thing that you need to know about them is how endangered they are. Seriously, they are in danger of being completely extinct from their natural habitat (which is also in great danger). The best way to help them isn't to put them in zoos and try to breed them (though breed-and-release programs can be helpful), but rather to conserve their natural habitat and let them repopulate naturally.

This is no life for an animal-- let alone one that is so very much like ourselves, with feelings of fear and boredom and loneliness affecting them the same as us. We should want to live in a world where these creatures, and all creatures, can flourish and thrive alongside us.

That being said, the natural habitat of gibbons is rapidly falling prey to pollution and deforestation. Places such as the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, CA, offer protection for some 40 or so gibbons, and they make a good effort to help with the conservation of the species, but they aren't addressing the real problem-- they're basically just a Gibbon Zoo in California.

This, in the image above, the beautiful rainforest of Southeast Asia (and those of the world), is what really matters. This is where gibbons live, and it's where they belong. Instead of destroying their habitat and then saving them from extinction, we need to find a way to make others more conscious of the harm they're doing now, and find a way to avoid it in the future.

We need to support the locals there who are making conservation efforts. The national parks and wildlife conservations that are actually working on preserving the land and the nature for the generations to come, rather than just worrying about making future generations. I've got a few ideas, but I would love to hear yours in the comments!

  1. Volunteer. There are plenty of ways you can get personally involved with conservation efforts for gibbons. Apply for a position at one of Southeast Asia's National Parks (credentials may be necessary), help to raise awareness with blogs or social media, or just get out there and be the difference!
  2. Donate. It's hard to find the right organization to give your hard-earned money to, as is the case with any kind of donation. Look for a cause that really speaks to you, or organize your own fundraiser and spend the money thoughtfully! Don't waste precious money on organizations that aren't proven responsible.
  3. Be mindful. If every person made a conscious effort to at least be aware of and concerned about the global effect they have on pollution, the world just might be a cleaner place. Furthermore, a more mindful public leads to more mindful legislation-- hopefully in the direction of less pollution and more conservation.

The last thing I want to tell you about, and this is actually the reason I decided to write about this topic, is the best overall effort I've seen yet at helping to conserve the natural habitat of the gibbons-- plus it's fun!

I was looking for ways that I could travel to beautiful locations and give something back while I'm at it-- sort of like voluntourism I suppose, but I don't like that word-- when I found Flight of the Gibbon.

Picture an enormous conservation park with free-roaming gibbons and other animals, miles and miles of hiking trails and white-water rivers, and zip-lining! It's basically an outdoor adventure tour that gives you the experience of the deep, natural jungle while soaring over the canopy, exploring the trails or snaking through the rivers, if you're the strong and athletic type. But that's only half the fun.

On their website, and in some blogs they released elsewhere, they describe how extensive their conservation efforts truly are. Not only are they exactly what I've been talking about-- an organization that is focused on conserving not only the gibbon, but its habitat as well-- but they have real results to show for it!

Seriously, with absolutely no bias, I suggest checking out Flight of the Gibbon for the most worthwhile wild life adventure travel tour in terms of both fun and value to nature.

__________________________________________________________________

The author of this blog is a travel, nature, and conservation enthusiast!

She would love to hear what you thought of her work in the comments below, and a thumbs up could really send her day in the right direction! :)

Thanks for reading!

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