ESR 9:151-157 (2009)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00218

Saved from trade: donated and confiscated gibbons in zoos and rescue centres in Indonesia

Vincent Nijman1,*, Cho-fui Yang Martinez1, Chris R. Shepherd1,2

1Oxford Brookes University, School of Social Sciences and Law, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
2TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Unit 9-3A, 3rd floor, Jalan SS23/11, Taman SEA, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

ABSTRACT: We present data on ~600 gibbons in 22 zoos and 9 wildlife rescue centres and reintroduction centres in western Indonesia based on surveys conducted from 2003 to 2008. All gibbon species are protected by Indonesian law and cannot legally be kept as pets. Gibbons rarely breed successfully in Indonesian zoos, and the vast majority of animals present in these collections originate from the illegal wildlife trade, having been donated to the zoos by the public or brought in by Indonesian authorities after being confiscated from dealers or private owners. Gibbons in rescue and rehabilitation centres also derive largely from donations or confiscations. The surveys provide insight into the volume and species composition of gibbons in trade. All 7 species of gibbon that occur naturally in Indonesia were observed, with the highest numbers (130 ind.) being for the siamang Symphalangus syndactylus. About 100 ind. each for Bornean and Sumatran agile gibbons Hylobates albibarbis and H. agilis, Javan gibbon H. moloch and Müller’s gibbon H. muelleri were present, but only a handful of white-handed H. lar and Kloss’ gibbons H. klossi. No gibbons that do not occur in Indonesia were recorded. Numbers of the different species in trade appear to be positively related to their numbers in the wild. Trade in Sumatra and Borneo appears to be confined to species naturally occurring there, but all species are traded on Java. About twice as many gibbons were taken in by the respective institutions following confiscations by the Indonesian authorities compared to gibbons received as donations by the public. However, prosecution of offenders is rare, and given the large scale of the gibbon trade, we urge the Indonesian authorities to increase efforts to enforce wildlife protection laws.


KEY WORDS: CITES · Conservation · Hylobatidae · Reintroduction · Wildlife trade


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Cite this article as: Nijman V, Yang Martinez C-f, Shepherd CR (2009) Saved from trade: donated and confiscated gibbons in zoos and rescue centres in Indonesia. Endang Species Res 9:151-157. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00218

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