Gibbon SPOTTED in Huay Pakoot
By Gemma Annan, volunteer leader
I first heard the white-handed gibbons (also known as Lar gibbons) in the forest on December 31st whilst on our hike to find the elephants. Some people were sceptical at first but I knew the call belonged to gibbons. Their call is like no other- it starts with a loud wooooping sound then continues to woop; asending and desending in pitch using its sound amplifying throat sac. The call is slightly eerie and is certainly one not forgotten.
Since my arrival in mid-December we have heard gibbons in two separate locations of the forest on several occasions, this is extremely exciting as gibbons are endangered and very rare outside protected areas in Northern Thailand due to habitat loss and hunting. So the fact they are living in Huay pakoot is pretty special. Never did I expect I’d get the chance to actually see one.
Wednesday morning volunteers were given the opportunity to do an ele or a biodiversity hike by the river. most volunteers opted to go see the eles with Rosie(volunteer leader) and I took out three vols on a 45 minute hike to reach a serine, beautiful part of the river. After some exploration and a fairly long walk along the river (including lots of wet river crossings!) we headed up a forested hill to make our way back onto the dirt road. Half way up the hill we heard the famous gibbon calls.
We sat and listened, binoculars and camera at the ready. After five minutes or so Anya spotted a black figure moving in the trees directly opposite us on the other side of the river, there was lots of excitement as we realised IT WAS A GIBBON and we had full visual of it. It sat on a branch for a brief while then swung through the tree canopy and disappeared not to be heard again during our visit. I do not know if it was male or female as there is little sexual dimorphism but the sight of a gibbon swinging through the trees is just epic!!!
The volunteers and I were shocked, amazed and so so happy. I could not believe I’d just witnessed a gibbon in its natural habitat and in the”real” WILD! No tourists, no fenced in area and no fuss, just us four girls and nature at its best!
And what’s extra cool is as far as we are aware the photos I took of the gibbon are the first photos taken by GVI in this forest of Huay Pakoot!