MAB Programme and great apes conservation


Through the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme work to ensure the long-term survival of chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos and their habitats in Africa and Asia.

Coordinated by UNESCO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) GRASP is a unique alliance of nearly 100 national governments, conservation organizations, research institutions, United Nations (UN) agencies, and private companies.

Great Apes are found in 21 Biosphere Reserves, including Mountain gorillas in the Volcans Biosphere Reserve in Rwanda, chimpanzees in the Haut Niger Biosphere Reserve in Guinea, and Sumatran orangutans in the Gunung Leuser Biosphere Reserve in Indonesia. These sites are ‘living laboratories’ to better understand great apes. Studies are underway in different biosphere reserves.

One of the most important populations of wild chimpanzees lives in the Taï Biosphere Reserve in Côte d’Ivoire, where zoologists have been studying their behaviour since 1979. Much of what we know today about orangutan toolmaking is from studies in the Tanjung Puting Biosphere Reserve in Indonesia. These studies are combined with a variety of projects to reconcile conservation with the needs of local communities.

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