27/02/2019. My first day of my Phuket adventure. Always happy to come back here but always feel I need to be here for longer than just a week. I will eventually. At this stage, I can only spare a week per year to do so as I have to go back home for other commitments. However, it is important to me to physically be in Phuket to not only help financially but also hands on, being present in the moment, doing something to create a small difference.
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. A special cause creating special moments!
It’s always a special moment for me to come to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project. All gibbons here are victims of illegal poaching and trading. The reason there is such trade has one reason: Tourists! They have been creating the demand to take photos of ‘tamed’ gibbons in nightclubs, pubs, beaches etc. They don’t realize the hardship that the gibbons are going through to get to that nightclub. They don’t realize the gibbons don’t want to be there. They don’t realize the gibbons are actually NOT happy. They only realize that there is a monkey on the shoulder of a person and that
this scenario is so foreign to them that they need to support it by taking a photo and even paying money for it. Locals know that foreigners go mad for this sort of ‘attraction’ and therefore the illegal trade continues. And hence the animal cruelty involved in this.
A law has been introduced in 1992 to stop people from illegal trading and poaching gibbons from the wild. Many people have been frightened by this law, so they have given their pet gibbons to GRP. But not all people have done that. The fines for breaching the law are nowhere near enough to stop people from completely stepping away from the gibbon trade. Harsher penalties need to be introduced. Surely, this will happen eventually. Surely!
Think! Just think!
How you can help? Simple. Do not ever support any animal-related attraction like taking a photo in a tourist hub. Only support activities that are run ethically in the best interest of the animal. Think about your decisions carefully. Take a moment to look around and assess the situation. Is that animal there for any other reason that just living the happy life of an animal? Or is the animal there to entertain humans? Is it there because humans want it to be there? Is it there because humans see financial gain in the cuteness or ability of the animal? I beg you again, think about it! Think about it very carefully before making your decision and where you put your money. When you put money towards an unethical animal attraction, you simultaneously support animal cruelty, you simultaneously support what humans do to these animals, and you simultaneously demand for this attraction to be continued. This will lead to more illegal poaching and trading. The end result will consequently be that the animals will no longer live in their natural habitat where they belong. And they will consequently, over a course of time, disappear from this world.
The Gibbon Rehab Project rescues the monkeys from instances mentioned above and tries to reintroduce them into the wild where possible. Sometimes the gibbons are too used to humans to be released again but they spend the rest of their lives in the care of GRP. The ones that are candidates for reintroduction are not displayed to the public as part of the year-long process to ‘de-humanize’ them by gradually moving them further away from humans and deeper into the forest where they are anticipated to live again down the track.
I’ve been visiting my gibbon buddy Bo since 2017, and I have been renewing my adoption for him here each time. This year, thanks to the generous donations, I was able to also adopt his friends Tam and Gibby. I’m so happy to contribute here because they rely solely on donations. Thank you to all who have helped me make this possible. The gibbons need our help. And every donation and adoption will help. If you would like more info on the GRP, please visit their website HERE.
One more important advice!
Another thing you can do to help is to take your rubbish home and not leave it around. While Thailand is not very good with rubbish disposal and collection, you can still do your bit to prevent not only pollution but also prevent monkeys to leave their natural habitat. They leave their homes in search for food that people leave around carelessly. They adapt to life around humans and therefore rely on food provided by them. This will lead to an unhealthy dependence. Wild animals are
supposed to find their food in nature, not in human areas. While population is growing and natural habitat decreasing, this will always be a challenging task to balance as animals are often forced into people-populated areas to find food because humans have been taking their homes from them.
Regardless, one has to do the right thing and again THINK about the consequences. Pick up your rubbish and know this simple task will go a very long way.
A day of looking after animals and looking after myself.
The GRP set in the midst of the Khao Phra Thaew National Park with Bangpae Waterfall only meters away from the gibbons. It would have been silly not to have a dip and appreciate the zen moment among colourful butterflies, cheeky lizards and the sound of the water and singing gibbons. Wonderful day for body and soul.