Back to the Wild

The Aspinall Foundation, a world class conservation charity based in Kent, has returned the biggest ever group of Javan langurs to their natural Indonesian habitat, as it continues its work to prevent the extinction in the wild of this beautiful and tragically endangered species.


A total of 15 of the leaf-eating monkeys, including 13 captive-bred at the Foundation’s Port Lympne Reserve in Kent and two more from Beauval Zoo in France, boarded a 15 hour direct flight from Gatwick to Jakarta on 18th December 2016.


The Port Lympne langurs comprise three separate groups – one of three breeding females plus their four offspring: an all-male bachelor group made up of a father and his three sons; and a pair of teenage brothers. The Beauval Zoo langurs joining the journey are a pair of inseparable half sisters.

Once back in the wild, it is hoped that many of those returning will breed naturally to further increase the population. On arrival in Jakarta, all 15 were taken to a special rehabilitation centre on the island of East Java, built by the Aspinall Foundation with the approval of the Indonesian government. They will stay here for up to two months, undergoing stringent medical checks to ensure that they do not carry any diseases from captivity to the rainforests.


From there they will be moved into an open topped enclosure pre-release centre, where they will begin to familiarise themselves with life in their native homelands – watched by keepers to ensure the transition from captivity to freedom is as smooth as possible.


By next spring the 15 langurs, fully acclimatised, will be freed into the protected forest on the island of East Java. They will join 56 other Javan langurs successfully released into the wild by The Aspinall Foundation.


Once back in their ancestral homelands the langurs, each weighing around 7 kilograms and growing up to 87 centimetres in height, will live mainly in the treetops feeding off the greenery of the precious rainforest.


The Aspinall Foundation is the world’s most successful breeders of captive Javan langurs and gibbons. Its Indonesian project has already funded and overseen the release of the 56 langurs and around a dozen gibbons back to their natural homelands since 2010. Its work is fully approved and supported by the Indonesian government. The aim of the project – as of all its other back to the wild programmes – is to reinforce the population of endangered and critically endangered species in the wild.


The Javan langur population has been severely reduced by deforestation, hunting and the illegal pet trade In Indonesia, as well as boosting the primate population, the work of the Foundation also benefits the environment since part of its pledge to the government is to protect the forest which provides their habitat.


Damian Aspinall, chairman of the Aspinall Foundation, said: ‘This work in Indonesia is crucial to the survival of a species which faces annihilation and extinction in the wild within 20 years, unless proper conservation action is taken. That means, wherever possible, returning captive bred langurs to the wild. It also means confiscating, rehabilitating and returning to the wild wherever possible, illegally held pets from this and other species. We are delighted that Beauval zoo has decided to send two of its langurs back with our group. We believe it is a clear sign that others in the zoo and wildlife park business are coming around to our way of thinking, that returning wild animals to the wild can be an important conservation tool.’


The Aspinall Foundation’s Back To The Wild initiative has already seen the return of many captive born animals to their natural habitats, including western lowland gorillas, javan langurs, javan gibbons, black rhino and European bison.