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 user 2005-09-16 at 10:52:00 am Views: 72
  • #12835

    Declaration signed on great apes

    More than 20 nations have signed an agreement aimed at saving the world’s great apes from extinction.

    The Kinshasa Declaration acknowledges that the root cause of poaching
    and deforestation is poverty, and pledges to support local communities.

    Numbers of gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo and orangutan have fallen
    sharply, and experts warn that some wild populations could disappear
    within a generation.

    The agreement came during a meeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Joint commitments

    The meeting brought together governments from the so-called range
    states, where the apes live, and western donor nations including the UK.

    Officials for the United Nations Great Ape Survival Project (Grasp),
    which set up the conference, said the nations’ joint commitment was an
    important step forward.

    “The declaration affirms political will at the highest level for the
    first time in the history of the great apes,” project spokesman Matthew
    Woods said.

    The UN body hopes the agreement will help stamp out poaching for
    bushmeat, animal trafficking and deforestation, which has destroyed the
    creatures’ habitats.

        It is poverty in the first place that leads to poaching
    Henri Dojombo
    The countries involved have appealed for international aid and development agencies to back their efforts.

    The agreement calls for each range state to develop a plan for
    conservation within its territory, and for western nations and
    international agencies to support these plans financially.

    The agencies should “make it a priority to develop and implement
    policies which promote ecologically sustainable livelihoods for local
    and indigenous communities”, it says.

    Resources on the ground

    Henri Djombo, minister of forestry and environment for the Republic of
    Congo, said that more resources were needed from developed countries to
    safeguard the great apes.

    He said: “Whether it be for research or for action on the ground, we
    need money. It is poverty in the first place that leads to poaching.”

    A number of donors already give money for great ape projects, including
    the EU which earlier this year pledged 2.4 million euros (£1.6m,
    US$3.0m) to Grasp.

    But more is needed, according to the head of Grasp’s technical team Ian
    Redmond: “We need to be talking in tens of millions of dollars,” he

    Scientists at the conference identified more than 100 sites, most of
    them in Africa, where viable great ape populations could be saved from
    extinction by implementing intensive conservation programmes.

    Earlier this month, an authoritative UN-backed assessment concluded
    that some populations of great apes, notably the Sumatran orangutan and
    the mountain and Cross River gorillas, could be extinct in the wild
    within a human generation.