Tini Kasmawati uses a rudimentary pulley system to elevate a bucket of bananas through the canopy of an Indonesian rainforest. Within minutes, a silvery gibbon, a baby clinging to its chest, swings through the trees and grabs a few.
For nearly eight years, Tini, 49, has been on a self-funded mission to care for endangered animals native to the jungles of West Java, spending at least two hours a day with them. Also known locally as the “Java gibbon” or “owa jawa”, populations of silver-haired primates are in decline due to illegal animal trafficking and deforestation. There are only about 4,000 left in the wild, according to Conservation International, and about 24 in this area, according to a local wildlife conservation group.
When Tini met a Dutch student, who traveled to the tropical country to study gibbons in 2014, she was ashamed of her own ignorance. This prompted her to care for at least six of the creatures, which she now considers family. “It’s an honor to be able to do this, not many people want or can do this,” Tini said in an interview.
Animal welfare activist Budiharto, who runs the Cikananga Wildlife Centre, which monitors endangered species in West Java province, said Tini’s work has made little difference to gibbon populations, but she had helped provide much-needed food for the primates. There are plans to convert Lengkong Forest into a protected area, but the fate of these crinkle-faced monkeys remains precarious as they are plagued by inbreeding, Budiharto said.
Tini hopes her work can help conserve the remaining gibbons and enable researchers to educate the public about them. “God willing, as long as I can still walk, I won’t stop,” she said.
(Writing by Yuddy Cahya Budiman and Angie Teo; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Gerry Doyle)
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)