For over ten years The Aspinall Foundation Indonesia has operated a very successful Javan primate rehabilitation and release programme. To date, this programme has resulted in more than 200 primates from species such as Javan gibbons and ebony langurs being released back to the wild in suitably protected areas.
In 2022 the work of The Aspinall Foundation is being extended to South Sumatra with the building, and operation, of the first dedicated Siamang Rehabilitation Centre in the region. Siamangs are the largest of the gibbon species and have been classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008. In common with many species, the most significant threat to their survival is habit loss through deforestation, and they are also heavily trafficked for the illegal pet trade. Fragmented populations continue to decline and, despite their vulnerability to extinction, the species has no Action Recovery Plan, and very little in terms of conservation actions specific to siamang exist.
With the knowledge and skills gained from the Javan programme the project, operated ‘in country’ entirely by Indonesian nationals, will enable rescued siamang to undergo a period of rehabilitation where they will be assessed. When ready, suitable animals will be released into protected sites in South Sumatra to reinforce existing wild populations.
Education and awareness-raising projects for school children, university students and local communities are important elements. This part of the programme will be supported by a purpose-built Siamang Information Centre at the site that will inform visitors about siamang and the work being carried out to protect the species.