Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Group opposes proposed relocation of Gibbons from Garo Hills


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Tura, June 17: The AHAM CEB in Tura on Monday opposed the proposed relocation of Western Hoolock Gibbons from the Sonja Wildlife rescue Centre in Garo Hills to the upcoming state zoo at Umtrew raising various concerns which could be detrimental to the animals.

The organization in its letter to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma cautioned that the move could cause ecological disruption, stress and adaptation issues as well as pose conservation concerns. The organization also pointed out that the animals are unique to the Western part of the state.

“Western Hoolock gibbons are unique to the western part of Meghalaya. They are distinguished by their unique vocalizations, which are critical for maintaining social bonds and territorial claims. They also exhibit complex arboreal behaviors that are specific to the dense forest habitats of Garo Hills. Relocating them to a zoo would strip them of their natural environment, potentially leading to the loss of these unique behaviors and adaptations,” it said.

According to the organization, the proposed exchange of Western Hoolock gibbons to the Guwahati  Zoo and Lucknow Zoo contradicted the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines, which emphasize that endangered species should be kept in their natural habitat whenever possible. Furthermore, the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 mandates the protection of wildlife and their habitats. Transferring the gibbons violates these principles and legal protections designed to ensure their survival, it added.

Also highlighting the cultural significance the animals have to the Garos and the Garo Hills, the organization said, “The “Huro,” as they call it, has been conserved for generations as it is a sacred animal. It is a cultural icon for the Garo, and the ancestors regarded the Huro as ‘A’song Nokgipa, Burung Nokgipa, and Chiga Nokgipa’—meaning they are believed to be the custodians of the land, forest, and river. Thus, the Garo people have always understood the ecological importance of gibbons”.

The organization also highlighted the role of the Sonja Wildlife Rescue Centre, which was established in 2008. Pointing out that it has been instrumental in preservation and rehabilitation of the gibbons by providing a safe haven since it was set up, the organization suggested that the existing facility be upgraded instead to ensure the continued protection and preservation of the animals in their natural habitat.


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