Faced with declining wild ape populations and dwindling forests, the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) set law enforcement, habitat protection and political advocacy among its top priorities and emerged with renewed energy and urgency following the 2nd GRASP Council that was held 6-8 November at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
The GRASP Council is comprised of over 80 nations, conservation organizations, United Nations agencies, research institutions and private supporters committed to the long-term survival of great apes in Africa and Asia.
The GRASP Council adopted the GRASP Priority Plan 2013-2016, which includes addressing disease threats, conflict-sensitive conservation, and Green Economy as other areas of focus.
As rebel armies advance into the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo – prompting mass evacuations of refugees into both Uganda and Rwanda – the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) is seeking to monitor the status and safety of conservation partners in the region.
The M23 rebels entered Goma November 20 on foot, escalating clashes with the United Nations-backed troops defending the city. Goma is the provincial capital of North Kivu, and is home to more than 1 million people.
More than a dozen GRASP partners work to study, conserve and protect great apes in eastern DR Congo, and each is committed to ensuring the safety of its national and expatriate staffs. Although power cuts may hinder communication, some updates may be found at web links listed below:
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI): Congolese staff members are reported safe in their homes, and expatriate staff were evacuated on security concerns earlier this year. DFGFI has plans ready for the evacuation of Congolese staff, if necessary. All field gorilla protection, research and community programs have continued without interruption.(http://gorillafund.org/blog)
The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) welcomed census results that indicate significantly more Mountain gorillas exist in Uganda than previously thought, but warned that the worldwide population remains at risk and requires greater conservation effort if the rare apes are to survive.
A census conducted in 2011 found a minimum of 400 Mountain gorillas living in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which boosts the population found in eastern Africa to an estimated 880.
Approximately 780 Mountain gorillas were thought to exist previously. The 13% rise was attributed to more accurate census techniques and actual population growth among the gorillas.
Page 3 of 15
The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) is an innovative and ambitious partnership comprised of great ape range states with an immediate challenge - to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas (Gorilla beringei, G. gorilla), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), bonobos (Pan paniscus) and orangutans (Pongo abelii, P. pygmaeus) across their ranges in equatorial Africa and Southeast Asia.
The A.P.E.S portal is an online tool that provides real-time, visual representation of information about great apes, their habitats, populations, threats and conservation efforts around the world.
© 2012 Great Apes Survival Partnership