Ape habitat protection is at the heart of summer partners’ work

July 19, 2019
Much of the work by Arcus’ latest Great Apes & Gibbons grantees focuses on conserving the landscapes where apes—and their human neighbors—live.

The Rainforest Action Network’s Leuser Ecosystem Campaign is working to protect the ecological integrity of the Indonesian landscape—both for the local wildlife and people—by building on progress around slowing land conversion for palm oil crop harvests and developing an action planning process for the next five years. The region is located in a politically complex landscape that is also home to around 85% of all remaining wild Sumatran orangutans, as well as important populations of siamang and gibbons.

The Canopy Planet Society is also protecting the Leuser Ecosystem by reconciling development with conservation. Canopy’s global campaigns target leading brands in the fashion, book publishing, and printing sectors, all of whom have a substantial impact on Indonesia’s forests through their wood product sourcing and operations. Canopy is continuing to add brands and partners to their international coalition of allies to shift opinions and practices around habitat conversion in source countries. This helps to reduce pressure on resources in the ecosystem.

In a similar vein, the Borneo Nature Foundation is protecting the orangutans and gibbons of the peat swamp forests of Central Kalimantan by examining the ecological impact caused by the clearing of habitat for agricultural projects, a major driver of ape population decline. It is also working with the provincial government to prevent forest clearance and manage the area in a sustainable fashion that benefits apes and local livelihoods alike.

Another organization working to conserve great ape habitat is the Zoological Society of London, which is focusing on the Tri-National Dja-Odzala-Minkébé Landscape, a trans-border forest in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Gabon. The Society worked with logging companies in Cameroon for over a decade, leading them to adopt low-impact logging practices and better manage wildlife in their concessions to help provide a sustainable future for wildlife and people. Even though the Society no longer works in Cameroon, it hopes to use the project as an example of best practice throughout the Congo Basin in order to influence policy there.

The HUTAN Kinabatangan Orang-Utan Conservation Project, meanwhile, is focusing on heavily fragmented orangutan habitat in Sabah, Malaysia, by improving land-use management through research that has been used to better manage oil palm plantations. It will collect data on orangutan populations and use it to influence conservation policy.

Several partners are focusing on health-based conservation efforts for great apes. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s work is helping to improve the detection and identification of pathogens for an integrated great ape and human health program in Central Africa, a “hotspot” for emerging infectious diseases of global and local importance. WCS will expand its educational outreach around Ebola—suspected to have caused significant recent declines in great ape populations—as well as strengthen its collaborative efforts with national and international health organizations.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) will support the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP)—a coalition of FFI and World Wildlife Fund—to uphold guidelines for mountain gorilla tourism, which has generated significant revenue heralded as critical to conservation successes, but exposes the subspecies to disease. FFI is also working to support the enhancement of the sustainable, transboundary conservation of the Cao Vit gibbon, which is under threat from human use of local resources.

Meanwhile, the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences has developed a way to track key phases of orangutan rehabilitation and release for sanctuaries. It will work in partnership with Orangutan Vet Advisory Group (OVAG) workshops.

Also receiving grants this funding cycle are The Orangutan Conservancy, University of Kent, Bristol Zoological Society, The Borneo Project (fiscal sponsor: Earth Island Institute), The Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda, Well Grounded Limited, and Wildlife Impact.