After the customary procedures in the forest office, a guide with a gun was assigned to us and we started walking along the forest path. Hoolock Gibbons are canopy dwellers and can be very difficult to spot as they are quite high up among the dense tree tops. Suddenly there was a peculiar call, loud howl of sorts, reverberating in the forest. I believe there was time when people calculated the time of the day according to the howls and hooting of the Gibbons. With the morning calls, the farmers knew it was time to go to their fields. In the afternoon when the female gibbon would make a great call which was followed by the male, people knew it was time for lunch!
After a long walk, the forest guard signalled us to venture off the path into the thick forests. With a skyward glance we moved quietly in the forest. When we came to a clearing he signaled at some activity up on the canopy.
And there they were…a family of Gibbons.
They were effortlessly swinging from one branch to another with remarkable speed and grace. Their lightning quick movements are a sight to be cherished. Their arms were much longer and tail was conspicuously absent. It was difficult, if not impossible to photograph them as they were high up on the canopy and hence backlit against the sky. We stood with eyes cast upwards, watching these agile creatures leaping through the air. It was an ethereal experience.
The once contiguous forest is now fragmented by tea gardens and a railway line also passes through the forest. The forest guard told us that across the railway line, there is another group of Hoolock Gibbons, but they are unable to venture across due to lack of canopy cover over the railway track. I was wondering about the consequences of this divide, whether it will lead to inbreeding among the Gibbon population and the long term consequences of it.
It was wonderful to watch the only ape in the subcontinent, with the sunlight streaming through the leaves…truly a mystical moment…inspiring the muse in me…
As the sun rose in the sky
The Gibbons moved with the sun
High among the canopy
The big one leading at the front
Slow ones at the rear
Leaping through the trees
I watched and watched
Till they were out of sight
A part of me wanted to follow…
Poetry is motion
As the Gibbon
Glimpses Of The Gibbons At: