Keepers at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park waved goodbye to a group of six Javan langurs and a Javan gibbon last week as the pioneering primates began the first leg of their journey back to the wild.
The Kent based primates were put into their travel crates by their caring keepers as they began their epic 72 hour journey to The Aspinall Foundation’s Java Primate Project in Java, Indonesia.
Simon Jeffrey, Animal Manager commented: ‘Everything went very smoothly on the day – the primates are healthy and happy and are ready for their great adventure in Java. I’m delighted to see this finally happening as there have been a few setbacks along the way – but now, here we are, sending our first group of captive born langurs and gibbon back to the wild where they belong.’
The Aspinall Foundation’s Java Primate Project has been eight years in the making and the conservation charity’s staff, both in the UK and Indonesia, have played an instrumental role in liaising with local governments and forestry officials to find suitable land, taking part in site surveys of the surrounding forests – to ensure that they can sufficiently sustain the primates due for release and enclosure design at the centre itself.
Amos Courage, Overseas Project Director said: ‘The Aspinall Foundation has been working to protect three endemic primates living in the forests of Java. In 2012 we finished work on our rescue centre in west Java for the rehabilitation of these species prior to their reintroduction to the wild. There are currently 13 gibbons – all confiscated ex pets, being rehabilitated in the centre.’
The Kent group of primates will be introduced into holding enclosures at the West Java Centre while they are monitored by the Indonesian team and their keepers from the wild animal park in Kent, to enable them to adjust to the climate and their new environment.
The Aspinall Foundation, headed by passionate conservation, Damian Aspinall launched its Back ToThe Wild appeal, in the summer of last year, when they announced plans to reintroduce captive bred animals back to protected areas in the wild in order to save endangered species on the brink of extinction.
Simon added: ‘I’d like to thank all the KM Group readers who supported our Back To The Wild appeal and helped us to raise the money to make this move possible.’