“The clock is standing at one minute to midnight for great apes”
Dr. Klaus Topfer,
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
All the great apes are under serious threat. The basic facts are set out below and further details can be found from the relevant web sites. Visit the Ape Alliance web site for a wide range of information on great apes - www.4apes.com.
The gorillas are the largest of the great apes and are divided into the eastern and the western gorillas. The mountain gorilla is classed as one of the eastern gorillas.
Kahuza-Biega National Park is a desperately dangerous place to be. These gorillas will soon be on the ‘critically endangered’ list.
Already ‘critically endangered’ or facing an extremely high risk of extinction, are the mountain gorillas. Only around 880 remain in the Virunga Heartland, straddling Uganda, Rwanda and eastern DRC.
Estimated at 94,000 spread over several western African countries.
The Cross River gorilla subspecies is thought to number just 150-200 individuals.
Over 1,000 kms separates the western and eastern gorilla populations.
Go to the Partners & Supporters page to find gorilla conservation organisations.
Two species of chimpanzee occur in Africa.
The bonobo, sometimes called the pygmy chimpanzee, and the inappropriately named common chimpanzee.
Only found in DR Congo, mainly in Salonga National Park.
Possibly around 15,000 remain, but declining fast.
Different subspecies, but in total the numbers are down to 170,000 – 301,000, spread over 21 African countries.
The trade in live infants continues – 1,000 wild caught chimpanzees were exported annually over the past decade.
- also known as ‘Old Man of the Trees’
The expansion of palm oil plantations into high conservation value forests is now the number one threat to wild orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo. The Indonesian palm oil industry has announced that it intends to expand plantations rapidly, in order to meet growing worldwide demand for palm oil as a biofuel.
The Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) is innovative and ambitious. It is co-sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO).
GRASP is a truly international partnership of the widest range of organisations. It has a unique and vital role in great ape conservation, whilst raising awareness at a global level. Its ultimate goal is to support the survival of great apes and the habitat on which they depend.
Partnership has an immediate challenge; to lift the threat of imminent extinction facing most populations of great apes, namely gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees) and orangutans. GRASP’s mission is to work, as a coherent partnership, with range state governments and other partners to conserve viable, wild populations of every kind of great ape and to make sure hat, where they interact with people, those interactions are mutually positive and sustainable.
GRASP also seeks to exemplify and reduce the threats faced by other kinds of animals, birds and plants sharing forests where apes survive, and to illustrate the achievements gained through genuine partnership between all the stakeholders of these fragile ecosystems.
“We take off our hats to the park rangers around the world who work diligently, often in obscurity, to manage and protect the wildlife and wilderness that many of the rest of us enjoy and benefit from.
These men and women in much of the range of the great apes across Africa and Asia often face civil strife and insecurity, lack of proper equipment and delays in salary payments; they are indeed in sore need of as much support as they can get.
It is due to their remarkable dedication that we are able to celebrate the successes we have, such as the preservation of the mountain gorilla populations of the Virunga volcanoes through years of conflict in the region.
To build on these successes, tangible support in the form of equipment, materials, clothing and vehicles is essential.”
United Nations Environment Programme
Check out the GRASP facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/graspunep
This was the first meeting of its kind. This is a summary of this extra-ordinary event.
Under the patronage of His Excellency the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr.Joseph Kabila, the first Intergovernmental Meeting on great apes took place from 5-9 September 2005 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
An agreement was signed by over twenty nations, aimed at saving the world's great apes from extinction. Acknowledging that the root cause of poaching and deforestation is poverty, signatories to the Kinshasa Declaration pledged to support local communities.
Gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo and orangutan numbers have declined sharply with experts warning that some populations could disappear within just a few years.
Governments from the range states, where the great apes live, came together at this meeting with western donor nations, including the UK.
Matthew Woods, GRASP spokesman, said "The declaration affirms political will at the highest level for the first time in the history of the great apes."
The United Nations body hopes the agreement will help eradicate poaching for bushmeat, animal trafficking and deforestation, which has nearly destroyed the creatures' habitats.
Each range state has agreed to develop a national plan for conservation within its territory. The declaration calls for western nations and international agencies to support these plans financially.
Minister of Forestry and Environment for the Republic of Congo, Mr. Henri Djombo, said that more resources were needed from developed countries to safeguard the great apes.
Some western donors had already pledged or given money for great ape projects. The EU pledged 2.4 million euros (£1.6m) to GRASP, earlier this year, but more is needed,
According to Ian Redmond, Grasp's technical team leader: “We need to be talking in tens of millions of dollars.
An authoritative UN-backed assessment concluded, earlier in September 2005, that populations of great apes, particularly the Mountain and Cross River gorillas and the Sumatran orangutan, could be extinct within a human generation.