Building a Better Future for Endangered Apes

April 12, 2022

Great apes and gibbons deserve to live undisturbed and on their own terms across their natural ranges, from the tropical belt of Africa to South and Southeast Asia. But human activities are rapidly putting pressure on their very survival. The latest grants in Arcus’ Great Apes & Gibbons Program support organizations working to address threats to apes, alongside sanctuaries and rescue and rehabilitation centers ensuring high-quality care for apes in captivity.

Protecting endangered apes on all fronts
The chimpanzees of Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains National Park face a triple threat of deforestation, infrastructure development, and disease. Funding to Bush2Base supports efforts to assess the health and well-being of the apes living in and around the protected area while educating local health professionals about the dangers of pathogen transmission between humans and chimpanzees.

Wild Earth Allies received funding to collaborate with Primate Expertise to support biological monitoring and community-led restoration of degraded forests in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, using tree species favored by apes for nourishment. This protected area in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo provides a key stronghold for Grauer’s gorillas, who are designated as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

A grant to Center for Large Landscape Conservation supports research to assess major threats posed by roads, pipelines, and other infrastructure projects to great apes, gibbons, and human communities living in northern India, Malaysian Borneo, and East Africa’s Virunga Mountains.

Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University received support for its Conservation Litigation efforts against those who participate in the illegal wildlife trade, a major obstacle to ape conservation. This work focuses on enforcing environmental liability laws: powerful but seldom-used legal tools for holding accountable those who exploit apes and other endangered species.

Growing demand for wild meat as a food and income source in Central Africa’s largest cities poses a major threat to the bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas of Democratic Republic of the Congo. A grant to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) supports efforts to reduce demand in Kinshasa. In partnership with local experts, WCS reaches out to residents of DRC’s fast-growing capital through an innovative marketing initiative to celebrate Congolese cuisine and promote the consumption of sustainable, locally produced protein sources.

In Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon, forest destruction due to cocoa production is jeopardizing the future of western chimpanzees, who are designated as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Fern received support to advocate for European Union regulations and agreements aimed at halting the import of cocoa products harvested using methods that destroy forests.

The Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) at the American Museum of Natural History received support for efforts to protect threatened apes across Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Vietnam’s gibbons. Building on decades-long partnerships and research, CBC will design cutting-edge models forecasting the impacts of climate change on ape populations while hosting workshops and trainings to strengthen local conservation efforts.

Securing safety and well-being for apes in captivity
California’s Wildlife Waystation closed its doors in 2019, throwing into doubt the future of dozens of chimpanzees retired from biomedical research. Since then, North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) has raised funds and collaborated with accredited sanctuaries to find new homes for more than half of the total 41 chimpanzees. A grant to NAPSA supports continued implementation of the “Chimpanzees in Need” campaign to secure sanctuary for the 18 chimps remaining at the shuttered refuge.

Longtime partner Save the Chimps houses more than 200 chimpanzees rescued from biomedical research, the pet trade, and the entertainment industry at its southeast Florida facility. The sanctuary received funding to continue serving as a model of exemplary care and refuge for chimpanzees in captivity.

Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) received funds for its upcoming Veterinary Workshop, an event hosted in partnership with the University of Minnesota that will support sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers across Africa in their efforts to strengthen veterinary capacity, with a particular focus on diagnosis and treatment to stem the spread of tuberculosis among primates under sanctuary care.

A grant to Ol Pejeta Conservancy supports the organization’s Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya. Funds will enable the sanctuary to mitigate the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to build capacity for ensuring the highest possible standards of care for its chimpanzee residents.

Learn about all Arcus grants awarded since 2007.