Hoolock Gibbon's survival under threat in Ukhrul, Kamjong dist


Hoolock Gibbon's survival
Mungchan Zimik
Ukhrul, Jul 31 : The Arboreal Tailless Anthro Apes generally known as Hoolock Gibbon which is characterized by long limbs, thick and shaggy hair is on the verge of extinction due to indiscriminate deforestation in Ukhrul and Kamjong district.
DFO of Kamjong district SW Suisa said deforestation, forest fire and indiscriminate hunting are some of the main factors in the decreasing number of wildlife such as Hoolock Gibbon, antelope, deer, wild goat in Ukhrul and Kamjong districts.
According to the forest official the two districts were covered with dense sub-tropical rainforest and about 70 percent of the forest land was covered with thick gigantic tree canopy, which provided shelter to the Hoolock Gibbon.
Hoolock Gibbon being a tree dwelling animal, live on trees and the overlapping branches of big trees enable it to move or leap and swing freely from one tree to another tree in search of food and also to protect themselves from predators.
However, haphazard and rampant deforestation for timber in the last 3-4 decades has destroyed the natural habitat of the monkey.
The uncontrolled human activities for economic gains have adversely impacted the local forest environment as well as the climatic cycle, he added.
Suisa also said that forest fire emits greenhouse gas such as methane apart from carbon dioxide that increases the forest temperature.
The Hoolock Gibbon is unable to withstand or adapt to an open forest without tree shade or walk on the ground in hot temperature. This has reduced its population drastically in the two districts  within a short span of time.
In a brief interaction with the headman of Kachouphung village, DS Zimik said that Kachouphung is the last Tangkhul village situated at the border pillar number 121 and 122.
The forest of Kachouphung had a large reserve forest with rich flora and fauna.
Hoolock Gibbon monkeys were found moving freely along with other wild animals in the forest called Aphu-Makhu near the border pillar 121, DS Zimik said and added that  Hoolock Gibbons usually stay together for life and the female Gibbon gives birth to a single baby.
The headman said, Hoolock Gibbons live in a family similar to the human race.
Kachouphung village prohibited hunting of Hoolock Gibbon in the village since the days of their forefathers, added the village chief.
V Shangh , a native of Shirui village said that he sighted a pair of Hoolock Gibbon in Shirui Kashong mountain range in 1999 for the last time and it was never seen again.
He mentioned that Shirui forest area was once covered with gigantic trees such as Magnolia trees, Phoebe trees, Tuna Cindrella, Tairen etc but following vast deforestation, the number of wild animals has reduced drastically. Even the number of migratory birds visit such as "grey sided thrush" Shiri has shrunk substantially.
Another villager from Khangkhui village said that after a gap of 10 years, he heard the cry/chattering of Hoolock Gibbon in the forest area of Harva Khangai but because of its fast movement could not spot it well.
Apam Shimray from Kamjong village said twenty five years back, Hoolock Gibbons were seen everywhere in the nearby forest area, where tall and big trees grew, but after the trees were chopped down, the Gibbons also vanished from the forest.
It might be mentioned that the Forest Department of Ukhrul and Kamjong has taken up afforestation programme and natural forest rejuvenation project for regenerating the lost forest cover while the proposed National park at Shirui mountain range is under process.
(This news story was written under the Media Fellowship of Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, 2019)