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Gibbon Rehabilitation Project Chiangmai (GRPC)
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 Official GRPC site cilck here
Thomas Tony Smallwood. RIP. 1941-2013

One of the unsung heroes of the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation Thailand (WARF) was our dear friend Tony Smallwood.

Tony helped to found WARF into the success it is today, helping to rescue and rehabilitate animals in Thailand, most notably Gibbon . He also used his many connections and friendships in the aviation world to instigate marine animal conservation with the help of small light aircraft, especially Dugongs in the South of Thailand. A project which continues into its sixth year. Tony was a very generous, modest, unassuming man, who never wanted his huge support to be publicized, so it is left to his sad death for us to acknowledge and pay tribute to one of our founding fathers.

We at WARF are still grieving at the loss of our dear friend, and we cannot simply let his memory fade into history, so we have decided to dedicate the next chapter of our story in memory of Tony.

Pang Chum Pee Forest: A New Hope for Gibbon Release Site

The assessment was conducted on the middle of November 2013, with the aim of evaluating the possibility of gibbon reintroduction for determining suitability of the habitat and carrying capacity to support reintroduce gibbons in long-term. Pang Chum Pee Community Forest (PCF) is in Mae On national reserve forest under the National Forest Reserve act B.E. 2507 (1964), which is located in Mae On District of Chiang Mai. 


Pang Chum Pee committee is responsible for protecting a total area of approximately 12,091 Rai (1,934 ha), consisting of no-hunting conservation zone 5,091 Rai (814 ha) and sustainable utilization zone 7,000 Rai (1,120 ha). There are several streams and waterfalls with some wild mammals such as Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Common Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), Asiatic Black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), Malayan pangolin (Manis javanica), Common Palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphrodites) and Large Bamboo rat (Rhizomys sumatrensis). The natural predators of the gibbon in PCF are potentially the Crested Serpent-eagle (Spilornis cheela), Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) and some large wild cats.



Mixed deciduous and dry deciduous dipterocarp forest


This forest composed of (1) dry evergreen forests are scattered at an altitude over 800 metres above sea level in valleys and by water sources with high moisture around streams and waterfalls. The canopy of dry evergreen forest height averages 20-25 m. with occasional large emergent trees to 30 m.; (2) Mixed deciduous and dry deciduous dipterocarp forest are found around the hills and dry mountain ridges. A preliminary survey was concentrated mainly in a no-hunting conservation zone that the village is running anti-poaching programs. The gibbon prefer undisturbed evergreen forest with a tall broadleaf component though it has been observed that mixed deciduous forest in some parts of Thailand also supports gibbons, but that habitat would support a lower gibbon density than evergreen forest, and because gibbons using mixed deciduous forest also appear to rely on nearby evergreen forest. Therefore a preliminary survey was considered the area from the valley and up to the peak of mountain, which cover by gibbon natural habitat as evergreen forests.



Dry evergreen forest

There is the most suitable habitats at Huay Pong Lung valley. This site was firstly selected because it was a dry evergreen forest, where there is water supply all the year and easily accessed by the following and observation team. There was high abundance of food trees, which mostly were Ficus species and at least 22 different species of plants (in 16 families). All species are shown in table 1, with the growth types to which they belong, the parts of the plant which were eaten and local Thai name. 

Huay Pong Lung valley site is large enough to release 3 family groups.  PCF is connected to Mae On national reserve forest. This habitat could be much larger than Khao Phra Thaew forest, Phuket and can sustain more than 60 family groups.


Table 1. Food plants of the gibbons in BangChumPee Community Forest. 




Part eaten


Plant habits


Thai name 

 Spondias pinnata (L.f.) Kurz  F  Tree С͡
 Mangifera sp.  F  Tree ǧ
 Alphonsea boniana Finet & Gagnep.   F  Tree  
 Protium serratum Engl.  F  Tree
 Canarium subulatum Guillaumin  F  Tree   
 Dillenia sp.  Fr, L  Tree  ҹ
 Antidesma sp.  F  Shrub  
 Baccaurea ramiflora Lour.    F  Tree  
 Balakata baccata (Roxb.) Esser  F  Tree  ⾺
 Phyllanthus emblica L.   F  Tree   Т
 Flacourtia indica (Burm.f.) Merr.   F  Shrub  Т
 Gnetum sp.  F  Climber  
 Gigantochloa sp.  BL  Grass  
 Garcinia cowa Roxb. Ex DC  F  Tree  д
 Irvingia malayana Oliv. ex A.W.Benn.  F  Tree  к
 Artocarpus sp.  F  Tree   ع
 Ficus sp.  F  Tree  
 Musa acuminata Colla  L  Herb  »
 Syzygium sp.  F  Tree  
 Carallia brachiata (Lour.) Merr  F  Tree   ͧ
 Dimocarpus longan Lour.  F  Tree  »
 Adinandra fragrans Wall.  F  Tree   ջ


Under Part eaten F= fruits, Fl=flowers, L=leaves, shoot, LB=leaf base, R=Root.



The Chiang Mai Gibbon Rehabilitation Project


WARFs most successful project to date, has been the rehabilitation of abused Gibbons and reintroduction of these traumatized animals back into the wild from our main site in Phuket.

WARF is the only organization worldwide to have sustainably re-introduced many Gibbons successfully back into the wild over a 10 year period, and we must thank Tony for his vital role contributing to that success.

Rehabilitating Gibbons back into the wild is an incredibly labour intensive and time consuming process often taking as long as five years per animal to accomplish. Even after this much time, some Gibbons are unable to stay in the wild and must be taken back to the sanctuary. The Gibbons have to undergo many stages before they are able to fend for themselves in their natural habitat. Painful, long earned experience has shown that Gibbon pairs preferably with an infant have a much greater success rate as a family unit, rather than releasing an individual ape. As the GRP Centre in Phuket is fast running out space in the forest, Tony was asked to help locate a similar sanctuary in Chiang Mai. He successfully managed to interest a very eco conscious village; Baan Jaampi located North East of Chiang Mai deep in the mountain region bordering Chiang Rai into becoming volunteers to help take care of the Gibbons once they arrive.


A marvelous chance to return into the wild has come to Bambams family. Due to the preparation of the family and starting a new project in Chiang Mai. Bambams group is chosen to be the next reintroduced and the most initial one for being set free in the northern part of Thailand by GRP.

In May, 2004, Bambam, a small 9 months old female infant, abandoned in a card box by the road side, was arrived at the GRP centre in Phuket for seeking help. She was fostered well by special care and feeding until her 2 year-old age. Bambams development throughout many years in GRP had advanced beautifully, being socialized with other gibbons and independent. Later, since 2012, she has been paired with an eligible male, Santi, who is compatible with Bambam. They have shared their couple life together and in May 2013, Bambams pregnancy was being confirmed. She gave birth to their firstborn child, Peepo, on the third of August 2013, that complete the family and make them ready to be reintroduced into the wild. Bambam has turned out as a devoted mother to Peepo. On the other side, Santi has become more protective to his family and takes a genuine interest in the baby.

According to the out of spaced reintroduction site in Phuket, Bambams family is the first group of gibbons which will be released in Chiang Mai, North of Thailand. The lively family had been migrated into the North and has been yielded training sessions by staffs both from Phuket and Chiang Mai. The GRP staffs are present onsite in Chiang Mai and continue monitoring the gibbons during their first day and week in the nature. All staffs will proceed this responsibility until its end and put overwhelming efforts to make the gibbons rehabilitating in Chiang Mai become successful as the one in Phuket.


The total needed just over millions Baht will help us establish Tonys memorial centre for one year, and bring at least 2-3 Gibbon pairs there. Volunteers have already generously offered to support the transportation of the Gibbons by air from Phuket to Chiang Mai. If you would like to help us financially, we have a dedicated bank account, administered by the trustees

as follows:-


Kasikorn Bank

Thanon Suthep Branch, Chiang Mai

Account Name: The Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand For GRPC

Account No. : 471-2-38244-4

Swift Code. : K A S I T H B K






In addition to financial help, we need feet on the ground to help in all stages of this project. If you have some time to spare, and want to get involved in something worthwhile, please get in touch with us. Tony as those of you who knew him, will know, was very much hands on, and I know he would have been delighted to see those efforts continued by his friends.


@ 2007 Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand. All rights reserved.
Photographs courtesy of WARF Staff and Volunteers Niether graphics nor text maybe produced wihtout WARF's express written consent
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