Gibbon Spotting in the jungles of Ratanakiri with the local community.
Wildlife enthusiasts have a couple of months left to enjoy the opportunity of seeing and hearing an endangered species of gibbon in their natural habitat before the monsoon rains make it a much more difficult proposition. The Gibbon Spotting program in the Veun Sai-Siem Pang area of Ratanakiri, two hours distance from the provincial capital Banlung, is now run by local community members, with profits spread amongst the community group, and as a result, costs have been greatly reduced for visitors wishing to experience these rare creatures. Only small groups of between 2-6 visitors are allowed to visit the site in order to control the risk of the human impact as well as optimising chances of viewing the gibbons. The community guides run 2 day-1 night treks, with accommodation at the nearby ranger station, rudimentary and spartan but isn’t that all part of the adventure? The community have constructed a new five-room wooden building with mattress-bedding and a shower block within the confines of the ranger station. Food is prepared by the community members. The tour begins in Banlung and a one-hour motorbike ride to Veun Sai, on the banks of the Sean River. Once across the river, access to the ranger station is either by motorbike or an hour-long bicycle ride, and the trekking to see the gibbons will be first thing the following morning, with a 4am wake-up call.
As the gibbons are in the wild, the community, who have been supported in establishing this program by Conservation International, indicate visitors have an 80% chance of seeing the gibbons, though when Hanuman’s Andy Brouwer visited the site, he not only saw and heard them, he followed them through the jungle for an hour. This is a unique way to experience gibbons in the wild and the memory of the their piercing jungle call is unforgettable. The project is constantly evolving and additional viewing may include red-shanked douc langurs in the future. For now, the focus is firmly on the rare northern yellow-cheeked gibbons, and an experience and interaction that takes you up close and personal with a family of habituated gibbons in their natural environment. For more details, contact the Hanuman team.