In 2000 I started my PhD in Primate Biology and Conservation at Cambridge University and graduated in 2004. During this time I worked at the Kalaweit Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, with which I am still associated as a scientific advisor and coordinator for Kalaweit UK. Responsibilities include coordinating the volunteer programme and raising awareness of the plight of gibbons. My PhD dissertation focused on the rehabilitation and reintroduction of captive-raised gibbons. I quantified the behavioural changes undergone by gibbons in the rehabilitation program, identified criteria to determine when a pair of gibbons was ready for release and quantified the behavioural differences between wild and released gibbons. Additionally I investigated the individuality of female great calls between wild and rehabilitant gibbons and highlighted the various stereotypic behaviours which can affect captive-raised gibbons. I produced Gibbon Welfare Guidelines which are available on the IUCN website.
In June 2005 I started the Sebangau Gibbon Behavioural Ecology Project in the Sebangau National Park, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. This work was for my Post Doctoral Research with the Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, Washington DC., working with Dr Peter Lucas. Additionally I work with the Orang-utan Tropical Peat-land Project, developing long-term, wildlife monitoring projects which will contribute to the scientific knowledge of the study area. I am collecting data on all aspects of the gibbons behaviour and ecology including singing, ranging, interactions and competition with conspecifics and other species, food choice, nutritional intake, feeding patterns and activity patterns.
I joined the WildCRU in March 2007 as a post doctoral researcher. I am developing research ideas for the Sebangau National Park including gibbon (Hylobates) paternity testing with DNA, flying fox (Pteropus) surveys, Felid research and community education programmes.
“The charismatic orang-utan and the singing, swinging gibbon are threatened by logging, oil palm, the illegal pet trade and forest fires. But more people are learning how they can help our primate cousins, so the situation is not all bleak. Dr Susan Cheyne will discuss what we know about these wonderful creatures, and how they can be protected”
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