Hoolock Gibbons

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 26, 2022, 13:30

Hoolock Gibbons are tailless apes that are considered an endangered species found in India and its neighbouring countries.

These species are divided into two groups Western Hoolock Gibbon and Eastern Hoolock Gibbon. Both of the species are distinctively different in terms of their genetic makeup and coat colour.

Features of Hoolock Gibbons

The Hoolock Gibbons are classified as lesser apes; i.e., they have distinctive features like smaller bodies and long arms compared to the greater apes.

Here is a list of the noticeable physical characteristics of a hoolock gibbon:

Weight: The average weight of a Hoolock Gibbon is anywhere from 6 to 8 kgs; males and females are comparatively of the same size.

Hair: This species is considered to be dichromatic, i.e., is distinguished by two types of coloured hair; the males usually lie in the blacker shade, whereas the females are dark brown with hints of black in some places.

Size: The size of an average male and female Gibbon is 90cm.

Face: They are endowed with a mask-like appearance around their mouth which gives the illusion of them wearing a mask.

Other features: These species have a faintly triangular face, long hair, and white eyebrows.

The Habitat of Hoolock Gibbons

Hoolock Gibbons usually reside in the thick or mixed evergreen dense forests of eastern India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and parts of China. In India, these ape-looking creatures reside in the northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Tripura. You can spot Hoolock Gibbons hanging and jumping from branches to branches along the Swaleen river in Myanmar, Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh, and Yunan province in China.

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The Behavior and Diet of Hoolock Gibbons

Hoolock Gibbons exhibit a low-lying behaviour in winters as compared to summers; they are seen basking in the sun, travelling less, eating more, calling fewer duets, and sleeping more. One amusing peculiarity about the Hoolock Gibbons is they sleep sitting up on tress.

Moreover, the Hoolock Gibbons use duet calls to communicate with their counterparts mainly for reasons such as territorial defence or marking their territory. A Hoolock Gibbons diet comprises fruits, insects, and vegetables.

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The Decreasing Numbers of Hoolock Gibbons

Unfortunately, the Hoolock Gibbons have made their mark on the list of endangered animal species. It is estimated that the number of Hoolock Gibbons in the wild makes up to less than 5000 creatures.

These dwindling numbers are a consequence of the following activities

Hunting

The Hoolock Gibbons are victims of poaching and hunting activities carried out by ethnic groups and non-local people. These nearly “endangered” species are killed for meat, which is sold for consumption in markets. Furthermore, there are poached for medicinal purposes. In traditional medicine, Parts of Hoolock Gibbons is considered to be a boon for life-threatening diseases like asthma, tuberculous, and minor pains like headaches and toothaches. Some of them are even trafficked from their habitats and are sold to people as pets for entertainment.

Loss of Habitat

The interference of humans in forest lands has proved to be detrimental to many species, and Hoolock Gibbons account for no exception. Human activities like timbering, logging, transportation developing activities, agricultural activities, coal mining, socio-economic developmental activities like building dams, etc., have stripped these creatures from their natural habitat.

Saving the Hoolock Gibbons

With these growing problems, efforts have been taken to help conserve the Hoolock Gibbons. In India, the Hoolock Gibbons are given protection under the Wildlife Act of India, which prohibits illegal hunting and killing of animals. In Myanmar, the Hoolock Conservation Status Review initiative started in 2007, serves to protect these species in the long run by raising awareness, identifying and curbing threats, and planning conservation interventions. Moreover, the IUCN has also taken notable action by launching a similar program to save the Hoolock Gibbons.

The world is gaining consciousness and is aware of the harm caused to the Hoolock Gibbons and is taking appropriate measures to conserve places for living in peace and harmony.

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FAQs on Hoolock Gibbons

Q.1 What is the average life expectancy of a Hoolock Gibbons?

The average life expectancy of a Hoolock Gibbons is 25 years.

Q.2 Are Hoolock Gibbons the only “apes” left in India?

Yes, the only apes that are found in India are the Hoolock Gibbons, They are primarily concentrated in the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary.

Q.3 Where is the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary?

The Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary is located in the Jorhat district in Assam

Q.4 Are Hoolock Gibbons arboreal?

Yes, Hoolock Gibbons are arboreal in nature.