On December 12, 2013, a pair of endangered pileated gibbons took their first steps towards a new beginning in the wild in the forest surrounding the Angkor Temple Complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Born to parents rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, the gibbon pair was mother-raised at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center and has been living in a rehabilitation enclosure in Siem Reap since June with limited human presence.
This release marks the beginning of a new endeavor between Wildlife Alliance, the Forestry Administration and the Apsara Authority who manages the World Heritage site, to repopulate the barren forest surrounding the high-profile tourism destination.
“Releases close to this most popular tourist site in Cambodia provide us with an opportunity to bring a message of wildlife protection to a wide-ranging international audience,” says Nick Marx, Wildlife Alliance’s Director of Wildlife Programs. “We do not want the gibbons to be the only animals we release in this beautiful forest. We have compiled a [list\ of other species we feel would be appropriate to enjoy freedom in this World Heritage Site and these are now being considered [by Apsara\. We hope most fervently that this event will soon herald the release of other animals into the Angkor forest, demonstrating a new, forward thinking approach to conservation that is so desperately needed if we are to force the importance of wildlife and its conservation to the forefront of the minds of all who hold its future in their hands.”
For over a decade now, Wildlife Alliance has been a leader in wildlife conservation, rescuing over 56,000 animals from the illegal wildlife trade, rehabilitating over 20,000 wounded victims and reducing the wildlife trade in Cambodia by 75%. Joining forces with Apsara and the Forestry Administration signals a renewed impetus to protect Cambodia’s natural heritage. With better management and enforcement of the law, the Angkor forest has now become a safe haven for wildlife. Animals, such as pileated gibbons that are at risk of being poached or disappearing due to severe habitat destruction, can now wander freely without risk of harm.
Nick Marx continued, “It is our hope that this event indicates a growing urgency to protect animals from the wildlife trade and seek justice for those who commit the crimes.” In addition to dismantling the illegal trade in wildlife, Wildlife Alliance is committed to spreading awareness about the protection of animals and preservation of their habitats. This project, located in a high-profile World Heritage Site and Cambodia’s most popular tourist destination, provides us with an opportunity to deliver that message to a wider audience of international and domestic tourists.
About Wildlife Alliance:
Wildlife Alliance was founded by Suwanna Gauntlett to offer direct protection to forests and wildlife through cutting edge conservation programs. The organization provides technical assistance and critical thinking to governments and strives for stakeholder consensus in achieving solutions to multiple environmental threats, including animal trafficking, economic land concessions for agro-industrial plantations and mining, and community encroachment on forestland. Wildlife Alliance is the leader in direct action in the Southeast Asian tropical belt. Video.