The Indonesian Primatological Association warned Thursday that Indonesian could lose the unique Owa Jawa (Javanese Gibbon) in less than a decade unless serious action is taken to protect the species.
A 2008 survey found only 2,000 Javanese Gibbons (Hylobates moloch) still lived in Java’s forests, mainly in Ujung Kulon National Park, Tangkuban Perahu Mountain, Ciremai Mountain and Papandayan Mountain, almost half as many as the 4,500 reported in 2004.
“The threats to the Javanese Gibbon include habitat degradation and fragmentation, and the trapping oftheir young to be kept as pets,” Made Wedana from the Indonesian Primatological Association told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
The survey was conducted in December 2008 in 63 areas throughout West and Central Java.
The study found only 300 Javanese Gibbons in Ujung Kulon National Park and said the species stands a 50 percent chance of extinction within the next 10 years, or three generations.
The survey blamed dwindling forest areas in Java for the drastic decrease in the gibbon population, and said surveyors found animal traps and Javanese Gibbons being kept illegally for sale.
Only 5 percent of the Javanese Gibbon’s former habitat now remains due to progressive and vast deforestation.
Made said the grey-colored primate, which has a loud and distinctive voice and eats fruit bugs and leaves, requires the safety of a heavy forest canopy for survival.
“The current scarcity of this gibbon demonstrates the critical condition of Java’s forest,” Made said.
“I think we have to be more concerned about our forests, not only to save the Javanese Gibbons but to ensure human survival,” Made said.
“The Javanese Gibbon is not as popular as the Orangutan, but we have to protect them or these creatures will entirely disappear.”
The Javanese Gibbon is one of 10 high priority animal species in Indonesia that need special treatment. Besides Javanese Gibbons, Orangutans (Pongo abeii) and Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) are also on the critically endangered list. (naf)