volunteer

Volunteers Needed !

Following years of rehabilitation the reward of freedom is just ahead for our mature gibbons Brany (♂) and Seagame (♀) and we need your help to give them the best possible chance of survival as we supervise their reintroduction to the forest. The site has been chosen but we need more volunteers to help us, as previously released gibbons are establishing their territories close by.

The materials and the acclimatisation cage have been moved to the area and once it is completed the happy couple will move in for at least two months. During this time they will get used to their new home, the smell, the sounds and the wild gibbons calls. We need to build up the number of volunteers during the release phase so we can continue to monitor Brany and Seagame 24/7 for at least two weeks after the removal of the cage. We would like to carry on the follow up study for as long as possible as Brany and Seagame adapt to their long-awaited new environment.

If you have in interest in conservation and would like to be part of this exciting venture please email us volunteer@gibbonproject.org for more information

If you wish to volunteer please contact volunteer@gibbonproject.org 


The initial two weeks will be considered your training period. You will be learning as you work. You will alternate your days working in the Wildlife Rest Center (Quarantine) Site, the Rehabilitation Site and the Education Center. Training will finish at the forest site.

You will work alongside the Thai staff and existing volunteers for each area, it’s important to listen to instructions and take advice from staff and long term volunteers.

Working hours: On average, the daily schedule covers an eight hour working day, between 6.30 and 16.30, but this varies considerably depending on the number of volunteers, the section and the workload.

  • Education Center: opening hours 09.00 – 16.30, staffed by 2 people.
  • Rehabilitation Site: 06.30 – 14.00, staff by 2-4 people. Duties include feeding, health checking, cleaning, providing enrichment and other tasks included on the daily report sheet.
  • Wildlife Rest Center (Quarantine) Site: 06.30 – 14.00. Duties are similar to the rehabilitation site including feeding, health checks, enrichment and cage maintenance.
  • Reintroduction site: 06.30 – approx 16.30 volunteers may be involved with various duties when going into the forest depending on the current situation e.g. if a family is due to be released then overnight stays in the forest would be required. However, more routine forest duties include observing the families that have already been released into the forest, or exploring new possible areas within the forest for future releases.
  • Office: 09.00-17.00, duties consist of assisting staff with office work. Such as, updating the handbook or the gibbon reports, contributing to our monthly newsletter and translating information into other languages where possible. Other duties include helping to prepare merchandise for the education center.
  • Day off: Volunteers work 6 days a week. However, you should be prepared to sometimes sacrifice a day off during times when the project may be short staffed. The project (and the animals in our care) always need to come first.

Occasionally there are additional tasks that need completing this will sometimes affect the working hours, although usually volunteers and staff will work as a team on larget tasks.


Wildlife Rest Center (Quarantine) and Rehabilitation Site

Food preparation and feeding

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The gibbons are fed a mixture of leaves, vegetables and fruits. The food is obtained from local markets. It is then divided between the Rest Center and the Rehabilitation Site. Before feeding it to the gibbons all the food is washed thoroughly. This removes any traces of fertilizers or other residues that may be harmful to the gibbons. Whilst in our care, the gibbons are fed twice a day and their diet consists mainly of leaves, fruit and vegetables.

Cage maintenance, cleaning and enrichment

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Everyday duties at both our Rest Center and Rehabilitation Site also involve  cleaning and maintaining the cages. Gibbons are naturally very clean animals with all their faeces and waste food dropping to the forest floor far below them.  It is therefore important for us to keep their living environment as clean as possible.  It also helps prevent them getting illnesses. Everyday all the faeces and old food is removed from the cage and the ground underneath it. We also regularly clean their food baskets and water holders. Staff and volunteers complete any maintenance work that is required at the two sites. This may include building new cages, building steps, fixing holes in cages and enriching the cages. We try to provide places in the cages for the gibbons to sit or sleep, as well as ropes and swings that will provide them with entertainment and keep them active. The gibbons favourite activity is to destroy these enrichments so they regularly need to be replaced!

Observation: health check, vaginal check

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An important aspect of looking after the gibbons is carrying out  health checks and observations. In this way we can monitor the health and the progress of the gibbons through the rehabilitation  process. Each day, volunteers will complete a health check on all our gibbons. This involves checking their faeces and then checking there are no problems with their eyes, fur, limbs etc. At the same time volunteers will record the female gibbon’s vagina scores. Females have a reproductive cycle where the size of the vagina increases and decreases during the  month.   By recording the size of the vagina, and if the gibbon is menstruating, we can check if the female has reached sexual maturity and see if she is pregnant.  We also carry out observations on the gibbons. These are done for a number of reasons for example, if the gibbon is sick, if we are trying to pair two gibbons or if we are trying to choose a family for release. The observations mean that we record what the gibbon is doing every two minutes for an hour. This can show us what activities the gibbons are doing, where they are in their cage and how they interact with other gibbons. If we would like even more details on the gibbons we will observe them for a whole day. In this case two volunteers will record what the gibbons are doing every five minutes from 6.30 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon when the gibbons will be going to sleep.


Re – Introduction Site 

Forest Feeding

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We follow a soft release policy with our gibbons, which means that we continue to feed them after they have been released into the forest.  Staff and volunteers enter the forest on a daily basis to deliver food but also to check on their welfare.The feeding is slowly decreased until the released gibbons become independent and are able to find enough food for themselves. We feed them sour fruits similar to the ones they can find in the forest.

Mapping and Trail Maintenance

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In order to accurately follow and record the location of the gibbons we have developed a map and grid system in the forest. Each family of gibbons we release requires an area for its territory. We need to map and record the territories of each group so we know where we can release a new group. Once we have chosen a family for release we prepare their territory by cutting trails in a grid system and placing tree markers. We can then record where the gibbons are within these areas when we are doing observations. The plants in the forest grow very quickly so our trails are often grown over, so staff and volunteers regularly have to go in to clear these and maintain the existing tracks.

Follow up and Data Collection

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We collect follow-up data after we have released the gibbons. This is to check their well-being, to record their behaviour in the forest and to help us improve rehabilitation techniques in the future. When they are first released, staff and volunteers will go into the forest daily and monitor the gibbons. As the gibbons get used to their surroundings these observation days will be reduced and once we feel that they are fully rehabilitated we will stop observing them. Observations start early in the morning when the gibbons wake up and continue until the gibbons go to sleep in the late afternoon. Staff and volunteers will enter the forest before it gets light and will try to find the gibbons in their sleeping trees. From here they will then follow the gibbons for the rest of the day, recording what they are doing. Each observation day will have a focal gibbon, whose activities will be recorded every 2 minutes. A second observer will record what all the gibbons are doing every 10 minutes.  In this way we record where the gibbons are in the forest, how high they are in the trees, what they are doing, how they interact with each other and what they are eating.  We record what trees they eat from and what food they are eating. This often involves us taking photos and bringing back samples of the fruits they are eating, so that we can properly identify them.

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Conservation Education and Fund Raising

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Volunteers work some days a week at our Centre for conservation, education and fundraising. Here they  give informative tours to members of the public. The desk is open from 9am until 4.30pm and volunteers spend the day talking to tourist and selling a variety of merchandise. We try to educate tourists about the problems gibbons face and encourage them not to support gibbons being used in captivity. As well as to invite them to make donations to the project because we rely on the money we raise at our centre to continue our work.


Other Volunteer Work

Volunteers may also be asked to help with other aspects of the projects work. This could include anything from teaching English in the local primary school, to doing leaflet drops around the beaches and  helping to put on exhibitions about the project. They may also be involved in office work, which may include answering emails, writing letters and writing proposals.

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DO NOT GROOM THE GIBBONS !

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“It has been found that physical or emotional contact between keepers and gibbons can be more damaging than beneficial.  The arms of gibbons are very long and they are well known to habitually reach their arms through the cage and fencing and remove handfuls of the keeper’s hair, so BE WARNED.  Gibbons are also found to be highly “jealous” primate species, and suffer greatly if attention is given to them at one time, but not at other times.  Human attention has also been observed to cause serious fights between mated pairs when attention was given more to one than another.”AAZPA (American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums), 1984: For your own safety and so that the gibbons become less dependent on humans, we enforce minimum contact with the animals.  Once a gibbon is in an enclosure it will begin to socialize with its fellow mates and should not depend on humans for grooming and affection.  Successful rehabilitation depends on this policy.Note: When the gibbons arrive at the project our main concern is to not cause them too much stress.  This may mean, for example, that a gibbon that has been in captivity for a long period of time has not had any contact with any other gibbon and has been completely dependent on humans for affection.  He or she may require some attention by the volunteers in the initial stages to allow the relocation to be less stressful.  Gibbons are very social primates, and at some times interaction with humans is necessary, but only in certain circumstances and for limited periods.Do not forget this animal has long arms and split second reflexes.  When in hair pulling range or finger munching distance of an aggressive animal.


General Information

Accommodation

Volunteer Accommodation is in simple bungalows in a Thai Village, in the north east of Phuket. Each bungalow has its own toilet and shower. Rooms are usually double bedded. You must have a positive attitude towards working and living in a group as well as being responsible and helping with any housekeeping duties. Your stay at the project will be rather primitive.

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Meals

The food of the restaurant near the project, is in Thai local style, with rice, vegetables, meat, fish and other fresh sea food. Non meat eaters should inform the restaurant in advance so food can be prepared separately. Additional foods are available at nearby supermarkets but also at the local Thai markets. The local markets offer a great opportunity to the exposure of true Thai cuisine and local delicacies.


Free time

In your free time, you will be able to socialise with other volunteers and be able to visit some of the many attractions the island of Phuket has to offer. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and it is often characterised as the pearl of the south. Phuket has a rich natural heritage with mountains covered in rainforests, remote islands and clear blue water beaches. Also its Sino-Portuguese architecture in the city, its local cuisine and unique celebrations makes it one of the most popular tourist travel destinations.

 


Volunteer Profile:

2016 April Volunteer profile   2016 Jan Volunteer profile

2015 May Volunteer profile

2014 May Volunteer profile   2014 February Volunteer profile