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Tripura is home to huge variety of wild creatures. One such creature which is also regarded as a precious animal found in India is Hoolock Gibbon as it is the only ape found in India. Hoolock Gibbon is also found in the dense deciduous forest of Tripura forest.
Hoolock Gibbon is generally a tailless ape possessing a tuft of hair in the anogenital region. Hoolocks are the second-largest of the gibbons, after the siamang. They reach a size of 60 to 90 cm and weigh 6 to 9 kg. The sexes are about the same size, but they differ considerably in coloration: males are black-colored with remarkable white brows, while females have a grey-brown fur, which is darker in the chest and neck. White rings around their eyes and mouths give their faces a mask-like appearance.
They possess extremely long arms and relatively long legs. Long arms help them in swinging from branch to branch in the forest. As the ape is mainly arboreal, so dense formed canopy is essential for its survival. They move from tree to tree, swinging from branch to branch thus keeping a rare foot on the ground. The primary foods of these apes are fruits, seeds, flowers and sometimes insects. They sleep in the trees with their knees tucked into the chest and their arms around themselves.
There is also a Folklore related to it in Tiprasa community of Tripura. The Folklore says that long back decades ago, there live two newly married beautiful young couples. One day they went to the forest to see their crops, there at a sudden; they got a sweet fragrance of a flower. They searched for it and then saw a big tree with lots of flowers in it. The lady got so excited to see it and get it for her. Seeing that, the man decides to go up to the tree and plucked that beautiful flower for his wife. Then there came an oracle from the heaven, saying to the couple “You don’t smell the first plucked flower, throw it away but u can smell and take the second one instead”. After the Oracle, the men went climbed up to the tree, plucked the first flower and send it to his wife, but the lady couldn’t resist the tempting smile and smelled the flower, forgetting about the Oracle. As soon as this happens, the couple was cursed by the Heaven Almighty God and the men turn into an ape and the flower became fragrance less, the lady also turned into another creature.
Relating to this, it is still believed that the Hullock never comes down to the ground as cursed and shout a loud clear calling his heartiest wife.
This creature is a rare sight for people as only a few nos. of Hoolocks are displayed at Sepahizala zoo in Tripura. They are mostly known for their distinctive shrill calls ‘Hook-oo Hook-oo’. These calls are often termed as the call of the wild. Hoolock usually live in groups consisting of 6-7 members. With the first ray of the sun, one of the family members usually father starts calling- a loud howl reverberating in the depths of the jungle. This is followed by calls to the other members of the family, chit chatting and progressing through the tree tops. The call of the Hoolock Gibbon often attracts tourists as well. Sepahijala, which is quite a busy tourist place and picnic spot hold this creature for tourist amusement as well. But unfortunately, this creature’s call may not be heard more by our next generation because their population is about to decline in Tripura.
Trishna Sanctuary of Tripura, which was once the home of this group of creatures, now holds a very limited number of Hoolock. Land encroachments for timber and Jhum have destroyed the habitat of this beautiful creature in many places. Hunting the Hoolock Gibbon for its meat was also posing another threat to their survival. These creatures are mainly forest acrobats and they are so called because they hardly put their feet on the ground and their movement mainly includes swinging from branch to branch using their long arms. For this, a dense forest with canopies is required. Illegal smuggling of timbers in the region has led to discontinuity of canopies thus disturbing the habitat of the Hoolocks. If one happens to visit Trishna or Gumti wild life sanctuaries of Tripura, one cannot miss the whooping calls of Hoolock Gibbon. Nature has given such beautiful creatures which are now on the verge of declination in the respective sanctuaries.
Are the steps taken by Government to save this creatures enough, shouldn’t we also contribute in saving this beautiful wild creature? The call of the wild is a very rare experience for human and if steps not taken the whooping calls will be no more heard in the jungles.
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