Happy Birthday to Tong Kham

The Flight of the Gibbon team are proud of our role as one of the leading eco-adventure tour operators in the world. We work closely with local communities and encourage responsible tourism. Our philosophy is one of ‘sustainable sanook’. This means that not only do you have a fun-packed experience when you visit us, but you are also actively helping local communities and playing your part in protecting wildlife and the environment. And it’s this ethos that means we were recently able to mark the birthday of a youngster who is very special to all of us here at Flight of the Gibbon. The birthday boy is a gibbon called Tong Kham. And we couldn’t be more proud of the youngster because Tong Kham is a success story which epitomises what we are trying to achieve.

Tong Kham was born in Mae Kampong in Chiang Mai province on February 27th, 2011. Like many six year old children, Tong Kham has a sweet tooth and likes to play games. But as a six year old gibbon, Tong Kham is already an adolescent. He spends his days swinging amongst the treetops scouting out potential new homes and sourcing his own food. He still has time to play with his younger sister, Tong Khun, and teach her some of the acrobatic skills he has picked up in the forests of Chiang Mai, but their play sessions together will soon come to an end. The time the siblings spend together now is precious. Before long, Tong Kham will venture away from his family as he sets off on on his own path. Tong Kham will go in search of a mate and a new location in the forest where he can establish his own territory and raise his family.

Gibbon rehabilitation program

It’s remarkable that Tong Kham was ever born at all. More than a decade ago, the parents of Tong Kham were left for dead. Locked in a cage and abandoned by the roadside, the gibbon couple were in a perilous state. It was only the chance intervention of a group of friends on a hike that saved the two primates. The friends gradually nursed the gibbons back to health and they were successfully rehabilitated to the wild in 2007. And the transformation in the fortunes of the gibbons was complete with the birth of Tong Kham in 2011 and his younger sister, Tong Khun, a couple of years later.

The gibbon population in Thailand continues to suffer because of hunting and loss of habitat. In an attempt to counter this, we have set up a gibbon rehabilitation program, which aims to take the primates from captivity and reintroduce them to the wild. It is a slow and difficult process which involves an array of people and organisations including scientists, NGOs, universities and the Forestry Department. Amongst the many things we have to be careful about is the fact gibbons can only be released as a fully-bonded mating pair. This is essential to enable them to survive and breed. The location where the gibbons are released is also crucial to ensure they have the correct food and habitat they need to flourish.

Protecting Tong Kham’s habitat

With gibbons in Thailand under pressure from loss of habitat, we continue to work hard to improve the situation. Since 2008, Flight of the Gibbon have been working with local communities in Mae Kampong in Chiang Mai province where we have helped plant tens of thousands of trees. Over the next 20 years, our aim is to oversee the planting of more than a million trees at our locations across South-East Asia.

Meet Tong Kham and his family

Much has happened in the six years since Tong Kham was born. As the young gibbon has grown, so too has our company with Flight of the Gibbon.  If you visit Flight of the Gibbon in Chiang Mai you may catch sight of Tong Kham’s parents and his sister high up in the tree canopy. Our well-trained skyrangers will point out where you can see the gibbon family and other wildlife on the course. You may see Tong Kham too. But don’t be disappointed if you don’t. This is nature. This is a sign that the young gibbon has found a new home for himself and, hopefully, a new mate. In time, we hope that Tong Kham will produce offspring and continue the revival of these amazing animals. The gibbons inspire us and we hope they inspire you too.