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Meghalaya’s Sonja wildlife is home to rare Indian ape species


Shillong (Meghalaya) : Known for its scenic beauty, Meghalaya is home to several rare animal species.

Among them is the Western Hoolock Gibbon, popularly known as the Huro in Tura. It is the only ape species found in India and can be found in the Selbagre Hoolock Gibbon Reserve in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills District.

Situated about 40 km from Tura, in Silsotchigre, is the Sonja Wildlife Rescue Centre where Western Hoolock Gibbons are being rehabilitated.

The centre has been successfully generating awareness among locals regarding the conservation of the endangered Gibbon.

Many youth are engaged in rehabilitation activities at the centre and are undergoing training by activists familiar with the behavior of apes.

“We have been running the centre for the last nine years. Gibbons are not caught from the wild but have been rescued from villages where they were held illegally. Till date, we have rescued and released a pair of Gibbons,” said Sandrick A. Sangma, chief caretaker at the Sonja Wildlife Rescue Centre.

The efforts made by the centre are commendable as there has been little awareness about apes in the Garo Hills. It has succeeded in creating much needed attention among locals.

Last year, the centre rehabilitated a pair of Gibbons at the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve. Tourists who have been visiting the centre appreciate the efforts made to preserve rare western Hoolock Gibbon.

“Well very interesting. This kind of places is very important as it helps creating awareness for the local people as well as about the visitors about the western Hoolock gibbons,” said Graham Chaplin, a British tourist.

Many researchers and even students from abroad visit the centre to conduct research and study about the rarely found ape. They underline the need for promotion of the centre as the ape itself is an attraction for tourists.

“I am doing a research on my tourism purpose and this is one of the places that can attract tourists easily and can be promoted. Seeing the conservation and rehabilitation of animals here it enlightens me to certain extend that this animals are really endangered and most of the researchers, people who wants to know about this animal can come and visit for better understand about the animal,” said Gino Sangma, a researcher.

At present, there are eight gibbons at the rescue centre and are given proper care as per the guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) norms. (ANI)

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