Wah Wah Hoo! Intelligent calls of Khao Yai’s Gibbons

If you stay at Khao Yai National Park overnight, you’ll know that tents and bungalows come with a complementary alarm clock – screeching Gibbons!

What may be an incomprehensible racket of howling and hooting to sleepy park visitors is actually one of the most complicated animal communications in nature.

Researchers have only recently become aware of how Gibbon calls can function as detailed warnings of danger, not just romantic serenades.

Scientists from as far away as Scotland and Germany have come to Khao Yai to study the musical calls of these tree dwelling apes, discovering that Gibbons switch the order of sounds to alter the meaning of their songs.


Gibbon calls echo through the Khao Yai forest

Gibbon songs vary so dramatically, their range was compared to that between ‘gangsta rap’ and ‘sappy pop’ music by MSNBC journalist Jasmin Aline Persch in her article Low-profile singers of the animal world.

Khao Yai is home to two species of gibbon, the White-handed or Lar gibbon and the rarer Pileated Gibbon. In a small area these two species even hybridize naturally, one of only three such gibbon hybridization zones in the world.

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5 thoughts on “Wah Wah Hoo! Intelligent calls of Khao Yai’s Gibbons

  1. ooh.. gibbon
    In Thai, we can use the word “ชะนี” = gibbon
    for ladies. It’s a slang that can be negative or insulting to girls.

    well, it’s very good to learn about how gibbons communicate in the jungle.
    does Peun Pa have any project on gibbons?
    and do you have any advice on watching gibbons?

  2. PeunPa’s ranger training and community outreach programs at Khao Yai are anti-poaching initiatives that aim to benefit a range of species, including gibbons.

    Gibbons are most commonly targeted by poachers to be sold as pets or to people who charge tourists money to pose with them. It’s important not so support this, as it only increases demand to remove gibbons from the forest.

    At Khao Yai, gibbons are relatively easy to spot if you keep quiet, listen and look up into the trees, sometimes they’ll even come down onto the road that winds through the park. If you hear their calls, chances are they’ve spotted you first!

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