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21 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM

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Stories of a gibbon family

BY DANG XIAOPEI
Stories of a gibbon family
Photo by Chen Fei

In the Wuliang Mountain National Nature Reserve in southwest Yunnan’s Jingdong County, there is a place named Dazhaizi where several families of western black-crested gibbons live. Among them, the Dalaohei (Literally means “the Big Old Black”) family has been continuously observed by researchers for years, and its stories are told widely among researchers and local villagers.

Dalaohei has three sons.

The firstborn now has already become the leader of another family of eight. Though leaving the family for years, the second-born still lives a single life. And the last-born has built a family of nine. And the stories are about how these sons and the father defend their own territories.

Mr. Liu Changming is the deputy chief of Shequ Section, Jingdong Management and Protection Bureau, Wuliang Mountain National Nature Reserve. He told us the stories of Dalaohei family when we paid a visit to the nature reserve recently.

Western black-crested gibbons reach sexual maturity at the age of eight or nine. When the time comes, the sons will be driven out of home by their fathers, and daughters by mothers.

When the first-born was eight years old, he was expelled by his father Dalaohei. He left the family and established his own near the Wuliangjian Lake. Since then, he has never encroached on his father’s territory. However, Dalaohei keeps alert to the son. When the two families meet in valleys, the father never hesitate to drive out the son and his families.

The second-born was four years younger than the first. When his younger sister was only two months old, his mother was driven out of home by Dalaohei’s new sweetheart. Sadly, the second-born left the family to find his mother and sister. Among the towering trees, dense forest and blooming flowers, he walked like a loner. Ate when hungry, slept when tired. He kept calling his mother and sister, but no result yet.

“In May, 2012, the researchers found that the second-born had become the leader of Dalaohei family. But now reason has been found for why he had succeeded to the crown,” said Liu Changming, adding that Dalaohei disappeared from the family soon after.

When the last-born was eight years old, beyond the observers’ expectation, his father didn’t drive him out. He stayed at home and made his contributions to the protection of the family territory.

According to Liu, each western black-crested gibbon family has its own territory. In the morning, they forage in the forest while shaking the tree branches and crying to warn other families not to intrude their territory. Their calling can be heard several kilometers away. So every morning, the last-born would climb onto the highest tree, scream while shaking branches.

Later, the last-born and a golden female gibbon became deeply attached to each other. But to his disappointment, his lover turned out to be his “sisiter-in-law”—the wife of the first-born. The fire of anger burned when the oldest brother found the “adultery”.  He aggressively chased his youngest brother. Knowing the wrongdoing, the last-born retreated quickly to his territory.

But hate still exists. Whenever they meet, the first-born will do his best to chase and beat the youngest. From mountain foot to top, from tree to tree, one chases and the other escapes. Jumping, gliding, they act like kongfu masters of the Wuliang Sword School described by the late Chinese novelist Jin Yong in his work “Demi-gods and Semi-Devils”. 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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