Sustainable palm oil, extractive industries, illegal trade and zoonotic diseases are among the key issues to be discussed at the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) Regional Meeting – West Africa, which will be held 12-13 April in Monrovia, Liberia.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) joined the battle to protect endangered orangutans from the fires and haze ravaging Southeast Asia today with a $100,000 USD contribution to support Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) projects in Borneo.
Ambassadors for the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) today called on the government of Indonesia to immediately ban the use of fire to clear land if sustainable practices cannot be implemented, following the environmental crisis currently unfolding in Southeast Asia.
Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey, Russell Mittermeier, Richard Wrangham and Nadya Hutagalung issued a joint statement that warned endangered orangutans are at risk in Sumatra and Borneo and globally important biodiversity is at stake.
On a recent flight from Jakarta to Denpasar, I stared out the window at the blue sky — a real luxury these days that I was only able to see after passing through toxic haze and smog. I am sure there isn’t a person out there who hasn’t wished for blue skies to return.
GRASP Blog Winner Goes ‘APP’
A mobile phone application that allows consumers to tell instantly whether products they might purchase contain materials harmful to great apes and their habitat was the winning entry in the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) Blog Competition that posed the question, “How Can Technology Save Great Apes?”
The winning entry was submitted by Adriana Klompus, a graduate of Colombia University in the U.S. with a life-long interest in conservation and the great apes. Her blog – “Barcode Activism: Use Your Wallet and Smartphone in a Wired Marketplace to Help Great Apes” – received 36 percent of the votes cast in an on-line voting competition that closed September 30.
Klompus will present her proposal during the “Great Apes & Technology” plenary of the 2nd GRASP Council, which will be held November 6-8 in Paris. The GRASP Blog Competition received 5,689 on-line votes and was presented in association with Brussels Airlines.
GRASP Backs Calls for DR Congo Peace Talks
The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) welcomed Gabon’s recent call for peace negotiations between hostile forces in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, following weeks of fighting in the Virunga National Park that has threatened the security of critically endangered Mountain gorillas.
Gabon Foreign Minister Emmanuel Issozet Ngondet on July 11 proposed “serious and frank negotiations” to restore peace, following a meeting in Kinshasa with DR Congo President Joseph Kabila.
“Gabon strongly condemns and deplores the prevailing security situation in North-Kivu province,” Ngondet said.
On July 15, the African Union announced it was prepared to send a peace-keeping force into the region.
Fierce fighting between DR Congo government forces and rebel factions broke out in and around the Virunga National Park in mid-June. On July 10, over 800 people – including park rangers and their families – were evacuated, leaving only a small group to protect the park headquarters and an orphan gorilla sanctuary at the site.
GRASP Calls for Orangutan Protection in Sumatra
The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) today expressed “grave concern” over an alleged illegal palm oil concession and man-made fires that have affected rainforests in northern Sumatra and threatened to wipe out entire populations of orangutans living in the region, and called on the Government of Indonesia to enforce laws protecting orangutans and their habitat.
The fires – which were started to clear land for palm oil expansion in Sumatra’s Aceh Province —have ripped through the Tripa peat swamp, home to a spectacular range of biodiversity within the protected Leuser Ecosystem.
New Gorilla Airlift Sparks Calls for Stronger Controls on Natural Resource Smuggling in Greater Congo Basin & Beyond
Kigali/Nairobi, 4 June 2010 – UN Peacekeepers in DR Congo are planning a new gorilla rescue airlift next month, in what may be one of the first operations conducted under their new mandate. As of 1 July, the UN Peacekeeping Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) will convert to a stabilization mission, as per a recent decision by the UN Security Council.
The rescue is being carried out amid concerns for the future of the endangered species and recommendations by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL to strengthen the capacity of the UN Mission and law enforcement bodies to combat cross-border environmental crime in the Greater Congo Basin and gorilla range states.
The operation, planned for mid July, is the second to be conducted by UN forces in DR Congo as part of a wider effort to combat the illegal cross-border trade in baby gorillas, which has intensified in recent years with the proliferation of armed groups in the region.