It is not only for the natural wealth and diversity thousands of tourists flock to the north eastern states of India. The enticing and rare animal and bird species found in these states also leave visitors amazed. While the one horned rhino and elephants hog the spotlight, these states are also home to some rare and important animal species. The Hoolock Gibbons, known as the sole ape species of India is one prime example. While these apes are found in many regions in North East India, it is in Meghalaya that the tribes have come forward to ensure the rare species can sustain in their natural habitats.
Hoolock Gibbon conservation in Meghalaya
Hoolock Gibbons are unique apes and they face threats from increasing human invasion in their natural habitats in North east India. Rampant logging and unplanned industrialization has also affected their population growth in the region in cent years. Thankfully, the Garo tribes have realized the importance of conserving these rare apes and their endeavors are bearing fruits.
Garo tribe playing savior for Hoolock Gibbons
The 'Selbagre Hoolock Gibbon Reserve’, located in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills, is a haven for the animals. The reserve is protected and maintained by local Garo community members. These tribes believe that killing Hoolock Gibbons, locally called Huro, will bring curse on them and adversity will follow. This makes them safeguard the Gibbons from any threat and poaching is prohibited. Nearby Rombagre Falls is a beautiful picnic spot.
Another example of Hoolock Gibbon conservation in Meghalaya is the Sonja Wildlife Rescue Centre, located in Chinabat village, where the Gibbon rehabilitation program is under progress. This center is meant for spreading awareness among the tribes on the need to conserve the endangered ape species. The center adheres to the IUCN norms to rehabilitate Hoolock Gibbons. It was set up by Florian Magne, a French national.
A number of young tribal men have been trained at the center to engage in ape rehabilitation activities. The center has played a key role in rescuing caught gibbons from the nearby villages and releasing them in proper habitats. It has also caught attention of wildlife loving tourists visiting Meghalaya.
How and when to visit
You should ideally visit the Selbagre Hoolock Gibbon Reserve between the months November to February. Cabs are available from Shillong, Guwahati and Tura. Reaching the place from Tura is the most prudent idea. From Guwahati, helicopter service can be availed to reach Tura as well.
Related: Various Enticing Parks of Meghalaya