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Monday
Nov122012

Action Plan to protect Great Apes finalized

Sumatran Orangutans are often taken from the wild and kept as pets or sold to zoos and private collections. © Chris R Shepherd / TRAFFICParis, France, 12th  November 2012—Members of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) last week finalized a long-term plan to protect great apes and their habitat.

The revised ‘Global Strategy for the Survival of Great Apes and Their Habitat’, and an associated Priority Plan 2013-2016 was adopted by delegates to the Second GRASP Council Meeting.

GRASP was established in 2001 to respond to the conservation crisis facing great apes and lift the threat of imminent extinction by focusing on international policy, funding, research, and media.

Widespread habitat loss due to deforestation, forest conversion, harvesting of timber and non-timber forest products, mining of minerals, exploration for and extraction of oil and gas, building of roads and buildings and agro-industrial development are behind the loss of great ape habitat.

The revised Strategy also takes into account the latest findings on threats posed to great apes through infection and disease transmission between great apes and human beings.

Qunli Han, Director of the Executive Office, UNESCO addresses delegates at the opening of the GRASP meeting in Paris © TRAFFIC Poaching and trade are also identified as key contributing factors to the survival of great apes in the wild.

“Illegal domestic and international trade in Great Apes and their parts continues to have a strong detrimental effect on the survival of wild orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees,” said TRAFFIC’s Roland Melisch, speaking at a special GRASP Council seminar and panel on Great Apes and Illegal Trade.

TRAFFIC has been a partner of GRASP since 2008 and has monitored the trade in orangutans and gibbons in Indonesia over a number of years, for examples in Kalimantan (PDF report), Java/Bali (PDF report) and Sumatra (PDF report) and supported work to mitigate the effect of illegal meat trade on apes in Central Africa.

Other speakers during the seminar on illegal trade included: John Scanlon, Secretary General, of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora); Ofir Drori, Director of the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA), Doug Cress, GRASP Coordinator.

The speakers highlighted the need for better data on the trade in apes, the need to apply and enforce existing legislation regulating the trade and possession, backed up by appropriate prosecutions and convictions, and the need for enhanced capacity to combat illegal trade.

TRAFFIC welcomed a call by the GRASP Council for improvements to be made to the animal welfare standards of zoos and safari parks, particularly in South-East and East Asia, and Africa.

“TRAFFIC calls upon governments in South-East Asia to address the need for strong supervision of sub-standard zoos and safari-parks that are implicated in trade of wild fauna,” said Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC’s Deputy Director in South-East Asia.

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