GRASP and PUMA Team Up for Great Ape Conservation
The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the German sports company PUMA have teamed up to support gorilla and chimpanzee conservation in West Africa through a $428,000 USD agreement that represents the first significant corporate support for GRASP.
The funds are derived from PUMA’s “Play for Life” campaign in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a unique project that used an on-line voting system to select conservation activities.
GRASP will direct the funds to protect critically endangered Cross River gorillas in Nigeria and promote a trans-boundary initiative that benefits chimpanzees in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia.
“GRASP is pleased to be able to direct this support from PUMA to important field projects at the frontlines of conservation,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “Great apes in West Africa are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and human encroachment, and these sites are crucial for their long-term survival.”
PUMA is one of the world’s largest sports companies, with annual sales of 3.3 billion Euros in 2012. PUMA is also a leader in corporate environmental stewardship and has been a a carbon-neutral company since 2010.
“We are proud to support GRASP and the gorilla and chimpanzee conservation projects in West Africa through our Play for Life campaign,” said Justin DeKoszmovszky, Global Sustainabiity Strategy Manager at PUMA. “With this campaign, that was launched in the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, we have supported beneficiary projects that helped save African lions, elephant populations and now the great apes.”
PUMA’s support represents an important milestone for GRASP as it seeks to diversify its portfolio with the addition of private and corporate funding.
“Most programmes or projects within the United Nations system rely almost exclusively on financial support from member nations,” Cress. “But we believe that GRASP – with its broad partnership and diverse activities – is an intriguing investment opportunity for private funders.”
In Nigeria, GRASP will direct the funds to assist the Wildlife Conservation Society’s ongoing work in protecting the fragmented populations of Cross River gorillas. In Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia, GRASP will contribute to the GRASP-Wild Chimpanzee Foundation trans-boundary initiatives in the Tai-Sapo Forest Complex.
GRASP is a unique alliance comprised of partner nations, research institutions, United Nations agencies, conservation organizations, and private supporters working to protect great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia. For more information, please visit www.un-grasp.org