Contribution to Zoology, 75 (3/4) – 2006Vincent Nijman: In-Situ and Ex-Situ status of the Javan Gibbon and the role of zoos in conservation of the species

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The Javan gibbon Hylobates moloch is confined to the last remnants of rainforest on the island of Java, Indonesia. As of 2002, the species has been recorded in 29 forest areas, and the wild population is conservatively estimated at 4100-4500 individuals. Over 95% of the gibbons are in populations of >100 individuals, and the four largest areas support populations of >500 individuals each. In 2003, 56 Javan gibbons were maintained at eight Indonesian zoos, 15 at four Indonesian wildlife rescue centres, with five potential breeding pairs. There is no evidence that the species has bred successfully in captivity in Indonesia. Outside the range country, 48 Javan gibbons were maintained at ten institutions in nine countries, with six breeding pairs. The total ex-situ population is some 120 individuals, the majority of which is wild-caught. At present most initiatives relating to the conservation of the Javan gibbon have targeted small isolated forest areas and the ex-situ population, whereas in-situ protection of the largest populations in the wild has been largely ignored. Significant populations are currently found in unprotected forests. The large captive population of Javan gibbons within Indonesia allows, with improved co-operation, to set up an integrated captive-breeding programme. This should, not be seen, however, as a means to improve the conservation status of the wild Javan gibbons, which needs to be achieved through protection of remaining habitat, but could be used for improving the prevailing low levels of conservation awareness in Java.