Visitation of botanists on the gibbon observasion day.
On January 17th 2010, at around 6.30am a large group of people prepared themselves for a hard day trekking in the KPT national park, with multiple purposes. Staff and volunteers from the GRP, together with a visiting group of ISV students arrive equiped with data collecting materials ready to track down and observe 3 of the 4 Gibbon families reintroduced into the national park by the GRP. Park rangers and a botanist survey team led by Dr Piya Chalermglin, senior expert from Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR), and the campus as Faculty of Pharmacy, Silpakorn University, and Phuket Rajabhat University met by appointment at Bang Pae Sub-station.
The ISV student group warming up at the Bang Pae Sub-station before steep mountain hiking, while the botanist survey team with park ranger and Dr Tum go ahead along the nature-education trail, here seen identifying a seedling of the Cyathostemma sp. (N0000 @Phamon Sumphanthamitr; N0001 @Suwit Punnadee)
| (N0002 @Phamon Sumphanthamitr)
GRP staff and volunteers soon pass the botanist team, who need to take time as they pass through the forest to collect samples and identify plant species, however no time can be spared for those hot on the tracks of the Gibbons who are already awake and in search of a morning meal. The group split into 3 and head towards the territories of the family they need to locate. Two of the groups are soon reunited when they become distracted by the song of a lone male gibbon and follow his call in order to identify the individual and which family he belongs to. The young male found was Thong, he was alone, which is not uncommon for him as he is at the age where he is ready to leave his family (the Hope family, first successful release back in 2002) and look for a mate, this is the purpose of his song, but unfortunately there are no suitable candidates for him for the time being, so his calls go unanswered. Both groups then had to leave Thong to continue their search for the families they pursue. Finding the gibbons is made far easier when they sing, but when they are quiet it can become impossible, since they spend the majority of their time high up in the canopy. A radio message comes in around 9.30am, the Arun family (second to be releseased, currently stands at 5 members) have been found, their observers will now stay with them for the remainder of the day, recording their movements. It was another hour before my group found the Hope family, and the 3rd group unfortunately did not manage to trace the Payu family, a huge disapointment, as staff members where keen to check on Daw and her new baby, only a month old.
The botanists stay until late morning collecting samples and data, their subject not quite so volatile as the gibbon trackers. Before arriving at Wang Sai they came across a fruit often fed upon by the gibbons, the Friesodielsia affinis. (N0003, N0004 @Suwit Punnadee)
Along the way the GRP empoyees trained eyes spot all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures, a male Pope's pit-viper, an insect resembling a Ichneumons, a Malayan tree nymph and Long-horned spiny spider. In the first picture seen above are mother and daughter from the recently released Jita family, a member of the GRP staff left early in the morning to take them the necessary daily food supplement. (N0005, N0006, N0007, N0008, N0009 @Phamon Sumphanthamitr)
The botanist survey team keep walk along Bang Pae-Ton Sai Waterfall nature education trail. On the way inside Payu group territory they found some brilliantly coloured flowers scattered on the forest floor soon observed to be the bloom of wild durian (Durio mansoni). (N0010, N0011, N0012 @Suwit Punnadee)
The botanist survey team head down to Ton Sai Waterfall, Dr Tum lets them continue without him so he can join the group observing the Hope family. Staff member Mon, myself and husband Ken volunteers for the GRP, and ISV students Clare, Sarah and Lauren. We found the family farely late on in the morning, but now it was time to get to work, each person rotated collecting data to record the movements of the family, with the focal gibbon being Kip and her new baby,Omyim, who was born less than a month ago. This is the 3rd baby born to Kip since the release in 2002.
Above are some pictures of Kip feeding on young leaves of the family Euphorbiaceae. Omyim is still too young to eat solid food and survives on his mothers milk. (N0013 @Phamon Sumphanthamitr; N0014, N0015 @Suwit Punnadee)
Taking a protein source from the Golden web spider. (N0016, N0017 @Suwit Punnadee)
Joe, Kips partner feeding on young leaves of Uvaria sp. (N0018, N0019, N0020, N0021 @Suwit Punnadee)
Kip running along the liana, Joe feeding on undetermined liana leaves and a leaf stalk of Freycinetia sp, while juvenile female -Toffee, Kips previous baby, now just 3 years old finds ways to entertain herself with her surroundings now mum is busy with the new baby. (N0022, N0024, N0025 @Suwit Punnadee)
Toffee and Kip both seen feeding on the Psydrax sp fruit. (N0026, N0027 @Suwit Punnadee)
Kip moves to another tree for a better spot observe the observers, and comes lower to feed on the young leaves of Streblus ilicifolius. (N0023, N0033 @Suwit Punnadee)
Staff and volunteers are very excited to have found the Hope family and to be able to observe them at such a close range without problems, though Joe gives occasional reminders for us to keep a good distance. As midday approaches we feel the heat though very little sun light makes it through the canopy. (N0028, N0029 @Phamon Sumphanthamitr)
Kip preparing to move onto a nearby Dipterocarp tree. (N0041, N0042 @Suwit Punnadee
Written by Mrs Sharon Higgins.