Diet and feeding ecology of the western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) in a tropical forest fragment of Northeast India.
Borah, M., Devi, A., & Kumar, A.
Forest fragmentation alters plant species diversity and composition, and causes diverse affects on the feeding behavior of wild primates. We investigated the feeding behavior and diet of two groups of western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) inhabiting a small isolated forest patch (21 km2) in Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam, Northeast India, over a year using focal animal sampling. H. hoolock adults spent, on average, 35.2% of their total annual activity budget on feeding, and fed on young leaves, mature leaves, flowers, fruits, petioles, buds and also on animal matter. There was marked seasonal variation in the proportions of the dietary items consumed. Fruits accounted for an average of 51% (range 34–71% per month) of feeding time over the year. This highly frugivorous diet may limit the ability of the species to survive in small and disturbed forest fragments. A total of 54 plant species (32 families) were consumed by the focal groups during the study period, but there were variations between months in the selection of these plant species. Non-tree species such as lianas were among the most highly selected species in the diet. Moraceae, comprising ten species, was the most dominant family among the food plants, accounting for 36% of annual feeding time. The present study presents quantitative and qualitative data on dietary composition, preference and selection of food plants of H. hoolock in a fragmented habitat, which can contribute to the restoration and manipulation of degraded habitats of H. hoolock.