AGARTALA: A three-day workshop on conservation of the endangered Western Hoolock Gibbon began at the Conference Hall of Tripura University in Agartala, on Thursday.
With the primary objective to formulate a strategic action plan for the species’ conservation in the state till 2030, the three-day consultative workshop saw the participation approximately 200 participants.
Officials from the Tripura Forest Department, representatives from NGOs, students, research scholars, and experts from the Northeast attended the workshop that deliberated on plans for the long-term survival and protection of the species.
Organised by Aaranyak, a biodiversity conservation organisation, in collaboration with Tripura University and Tripura Forest Department, the workshop received support from Tripura Biodiversity Board, IUCN small section, and IUCN primate specialist group.
The inaugural ceremony of the workshop was held with the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Force Dr Avinash Kanfade, IFS, officiating the event.
He highlighted the moral responsibility to conserve the Hoolock Gibbon, stating the species to be “our closest relative from an evolutionary standpoint”.
During the inauguration, several speakers shed light on the importance of conserving the Western Hoolock Gibbon.
Prof. Sabyasachi Dasgupta from Tripura University provided an overview of the workshop’s purpose and the conservation issues related to the species, while Prof. Ganga Prasad Prasain, the Vice-Chancellor of Tripura University, discussed the decline of the general wildlife population, including the Hoolock Gibbon, in Manipur.
Dr Dilip Chetry, Vice President of Aaranyak and a senior primatologist, highlighted the urgency of conserving this endangered species as a “flagship for wildlife conservation”. Dr. Chetry highlighted successful past conservation efforts and the need for a consultative approach.
Dr. Kanfade stressed on the need for both in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts, including population monitoring, habitat restoration, sensitisation of law enforcement agencies, and scientific research.
The Western Hoolock Gibbon (Hoolock hoolock), an endangered species, is mainly found in the seven states of the Northeast, along the southern bank of the Dibang-Brahmaputra River system.
Tripura is considered one of the potential habitats for this species. However, encroachment, habitat fragmentation, and hunting pose significant threats to the Hoolock Gibbon population in Tripura.