Conservation of Eastern Hoolock Gibbon in Eastern Assam-Arunachal Pradesh Landscape through Education, Awareness & Community Conservation Initiatives (CHGAAP)

The lowland tropical belt of northeast India is abode of many primate species including the Hoolock Gibbons which is the only ape found in India. Gibbons inhabit primary evergreen and less seasonal parts of semi-evergreen rain forest, and very rarely semi-deciduous forest and its distribution is restricted to south-east Asia. Among the two distinct species of gibbons, eastern Hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys) is least studied for its population as well as ecology in India as the species has been reported from the region very recently. In recent years, most forests in the range of eastern hoolock gibbon have become fragmented due to forest conversion, selective logging and rapid agriculturalisation in Assam-Arunachal Pradesh gibbon landscape (Lower Dibang Valley district &Tinsukia district-Sadiya Subdivision). Moreover, due to the drastic changes in land use patterns and removal of feeding and sleeping trees reduced the quantity and quality of gibbon habitat which force the gibbon descend to the ground to exploit isolated food resources including the agricultural crops surrounded by areas of human use. Again most of the fragments are in the midst of human habitation, therefore, spending a significant amount of time near the ground or on ground, they may also be at increased risk of predation by domestic dogs and contracting parasites. Therefore, conservation of populations of EHG in those habitat fragments should be of prime concern.

With the financial support of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and active support of Forest Department, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Axom Sarba Siksha Abhiyan Mission, Govt. of Assam & Centre for Environment Education (CEE), CHGAAP project aimed for Conservation of Eastern Hoolock Gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys) in Eastern Assam-Arunachal Pradesh Landscape involving the local teachers, students & communities of the concerned areas for better survival of the species. The project period is from September 2015 to August 2017.

The major objectives of this ongoing project are to create a strong cadre of trained teachers who can educate and motivate students and together with students motivate community for positive actions; find out sacred groves for gibbon conservation considering taboos and beliefs of local communities and promote local youths to be involved/ volunteer for EHG conservation in their villages; Canopy connectivity through construction of Canopy Bridge in the selected; fragments of Lower Dibang valley district; find out areas of potential eco-tourism spot considering gibbon as target species involving the youth volunteer & local community.