The Western Hoolock Gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) lives in India, Bangladesh and Burma. Classed as “endangered” on the IUCN* Red List because of its dramatic decline due to the destruction of its habitat and being hunted for traditional medicine and the illegal pet trade, the species has seen its numbers plummet more than 95% over the last 30 years, from about 100,000 to less than 5,000.
Extremely fragmented, consisting of small isolated family units, the Western Hoolock Gibbon population no longer meets the conditions required for long-term survival.
Founded in 2006, the French organisation SVAA** set up the Huro*** program to protect the species in north-east India, in the West Garo Hills district at the heart of Meghalaya state. A rescue centre built by the organisation in the middle of the village of Silsotchigre takes in gibbons orphaned by hunting and kept captive, with a view to rehabilitating them and assuring their earliest release into a protected area. The centre consists of a quarantine building, a small veterinary clinic and several large enclosures.
At the same time as this rehabilitation work, the SVAA entirely finances the Silsotchigre school (teachers’ salaries, children’s meals, purchase of supplies). The school has more than 100 pupils, and educational activities relating to environmental and wildlife conservation are integrated into its academic program.
The Huro program currently has about 20 employees. It also regularly welcomes environmental volunteers and ethology or epidemiology students. Three gibbons rescued and rehabilitated by Huro have already been released: a pair in 2016 and a male in Spring 2019 who is now strongly bonded with a wild female.
The Zoo de La Palmyre has made regular financial contributions to the SVAA since 2009.
*International Union for Conservation of Nature
**Sauvegarde de la Vie Animale Arboricole
***Huro means ‘gibbon’ in the Garo language