02.11.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

Their Fate is Ours: Great Apes Survival Partnership Council to Meet to Save Species

© M. Graye, IGCP. Mother and child Mountain Gorillas, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans in equatorial Africa and south-east Asia are facing growing threats posed by bushmeat hunters and primate traders, war, encroachment on forest ecosystems, climate change and diseases. This has led to a steep drop in the number of primates and the fragmentation of their habitat, leaving populations scattered in small and increasingly vulnerable groups. To lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by the great apes, the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) was established in 2002.

The GRASP Council—coordinated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UNESCO—will hold its second meeting at UNESCO Headquarters from 6 to 8 November to define a new strategy to protect these endangered primates, whose numbers have continued to decline.

The Council will envisage ways to reinforce the fight against illicit trafficking; the use of modern technology—tracking devices to follow the movement of poachers, mobile applications to reduce the demand for palm oil whose expanding cultivation encroaches on the habitat of the great apes—stepping up the sharing of experience between stakeholders, and the development of green tourism in protected areas and more.

Some two hundred participants are expected to attend the meeting including: Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International, Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Primates Specialist Group, and patron of GRASP; Ian Redmond, Chairman, Ape Alliance; John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, former Environment Minister of Costa Rica; and Mary Humphrey, President of the Jane Goodall Institute.

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