Hylobates lar lar | Malaysian White-handed Gibbon
Great spot: Gunung Lambak, Johor, Malaysia
Seeing this Species
Gibbons are small apes, being closely related to orangutans (Pongo spp.), gorillas (Gorilla spp.), and chimpanzees (Pan spp.).
Gunung Lambak (which means Flea Mountain in Malay) is a twin-peak mountain which stands at 510m a.s.l. at its highest. A visitor permit is not required to visit this Gunung (Mountain in Malay). It is a popular trekking destination among locals, and despite regular human traffic on the trails, the Malaysian Lar Gibbon can be regularly observed. It is also a place where all six species of non-human primates in Johor state can be found!
Gunung Lambak is located in Kluang district in the state of Johor. It is about 3.5 hours drive south of Kuala Lumpur, or 2.5 hours drive north of Singapore. Regular buses are also available from major bus terminals in Malaysia and Golden Mile bus complex in Singapore. Tour buses from Singapore would take 4 hours and cost S$20 one-way per person (in 2017).
Probability of success: ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◇
© Andie Ang
Gunung Lambak, Malaysia
Taxonomy & Occurrence
White-handed Gibbons (Hylobates lar), also known as Lar Gibbons, can be found in China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia, and Thailand . Five subspecies are recognized but their taxonomic distinctiveness requires further examination .
The Malaysian White-handed Gibbon (H. l. lar) is only found in Peninsular Malaysia.
IUCN Conservation Status
White-handed Gibbons live in monogamous groups and were initially believed to mate exclusively [e.g. 2-4]. Extra-pair copulations were then reported in 1995 in which a paired female copulated with two other paired males from neighboring groups, in addition to her own partner . Subsequent studies reveal that extra-pair matings are more common than previously thought. Their genetic mating system can be described as "flexible, primarily monogamous, and opportunistically promiscuous" .
© Andie Ang
Gunung Lambak, Malaysia
Panti Bird Sanctuary, Kota Tinggi district, Johor state, Malaysia
From Singapore, cross the Woodlands border checkpoint to get into Johor, Malaysia, and once there, take a cab towards Kota Tinggi. When at Kota Tinggi on highway Jalan Jemaluang, continue past the Gunung Panti Recreational Forest (this is not it), and look out for road marker # on the left. Right after marker #270, you will see old WWII bunkers, and a sign that points you into Panti Bird Sanctuary (Suaka Burung Panti) on the left. It takes about 90 minutes on cab and costs $55 (SG$70) one way. There is a new administration office with haphazard system of issuing permits and collecting a small fee, but it is closed most of the time (even in that case, there is no problem walking in). Walk on the main trail (it starts with paved road and continues on dirt road, which is relatively easy to walk on).
Getting away from Panti is not as easy as getting there, so you might want to arrange with the cab driver to pick you up once you are done. Hailing a cab by the road may not be easy. Alternatively, wait by the roadside next to the bunker for a bus that takes you into the Kota Tinggi bus terminal. Buses come every hour (but not with a fixed schedule), and cost $2 (RM$6). There, a cab to Singapore costs $45. If you plan on spending more days for Panti, Rest Inn Hotel in Kota Tinggi is relatively cheap and good, where you can also call a cab to send you to Panti before dawn ($8).
Panti Bird Sanctuary is also very popular with Singaporean and Malaysian birders.
Gunung Pulai, Kulai district, Johor state, Malaysia
Local contacts: Andie Ang (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The numbers indicate distance, not elevation. Peak stands at 510m a.s.l.
© Andie Ang
© Sabrina Jabbar
 Brockelman W. and Geissmann T., 2008. Hylobates lar. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 21 April 2017.
 Carpenter C.R., 1940. A field study in Siam of the behavior and social relations of the gibbon (Hylobates lar). Comparative Psychology Monographs 16: 1-212.
 Ellefson J.O., 1974. A natural history of white-handed gibbons in the Malayan peninsula. In Rumbaugh D.M. (ed.): Gibbon and Siamang: Natural History, Social Behavior, Reproduction, Vocalization, Prehension. Vol. 3. Karger, Basel, 1-136.
 Brockelman W.Y. and Srikosamatara S., 1984. Maintenance and evolution of social structure in gibbons. In Preuschoft H., Chivers D.J., Brockelman W.Y. and Creel N. (eds.): The Lesser Apes: Evolutionary and Behavioural Biology. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 298-323.
 Reichard U., 1995. Extra-pair copulations in a monogamous gibbon (Hylobates lar). Ethology 100: 99-112.
 Barelli C., Matsudaira K., Wolf T., Roos C., Heistermann M., Hodges K., Ishida T. et al., 2013. Extra-pair paternity confirmed in wild white-handed gibbons. American Journal of Primatology 75: 1185-1195.
Page Last Updated: 6 June 2021