Engaging Communities in Africa and Southeast Asia to Conserve Great Apes and Gibbons

October 14, 2020

Throughout tropical Africa and Southeast Asia, gibbons, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and chimpanzees are in danger. Their habitats are threatened by mining, infrastructure development, and cocoa production and other agriculture.

The latest grants in Arcus’ Great Apes & Gibbons Program aim at strengthening the work of organizations to protect these habitats and engage local communities to balance the demands of conservation and development. That way, great apes and gibbons may be conserved sustainably for generations to come.

Preserving habitats in Southeast Asia
Two partners are working to conserve orangutans in Batang Toru, a vital ecosystem home to some of the last remaining intact forest in Sumatra, Indonesia, and one of the few areas in the world where three species of apes co-exist. These include the recently identified Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus), and agile gibbons (Hylobates agilis).

Conservation International will develop an integrated land management plan to protect the orangutan and gibbon habitat and promote sustainable development. People Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF) will focus on building community management of the forests and deepen understanding of gibbon populations.

The Arabela-Schwanner landscape, in Borneo, contains protected areas, as well as zones for timber, palm oil concessions, and community forests. Managing these interests is critical to preserving the large orangutan and gibbon populations there. Two grantees are working closely with local communities in this vast landscape to conserve orangutans and gibbons. Orangutan Foundation-UK will expand on its work collaborating with local public and private partners for conservation over the long term. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will integrate community-based anti-poaching and forest management units into new logging concessions, creating opportunities to connect fragmented habitat and protect biodiversity for the nonhuman apes and Dayak people who call the area home.

Gathering intelligence and protecting habitats in West and Central Africa
The illegal wildlife trade is considered one of the main causes of the drop in global wildlife populations. And yet much remains to be understood about the trade in apes. Legal Atlas will assess legislative frameworks and produce “best practice” guidelines on wildlife crimes and enforcement in Liberia and Guinea.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will use a separate grant to engage with local and indigenous communities around Ntokou-Pikounda National Park in Republic of the Congo, a rich ecological area that contains an estimated 15,000 gorillas and 1,000 chimpanzees. In doing so, WWF will build an equitable basis for future conservation work.

As forests across West Africa are converted for cocoa production and other agricultural purposes, ape habitats are threatened. Waxman Strategies will aid in efforts to stop deforestation in Upper Guinea and the Congo Basin, by engaging with agribusiness, governments of producer countries, and consumers such as the EU and U.S. This work will contribute to implementation of the Western Chimpanzee Action Plan of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The largest chimpanzee population in Cote d’Ivoire lives in Tai National Park. The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation will help conserve this population by monitoring the conversion of habitats, primarily for cocoa, and by advancing an ecotourism plan that was developed in collaboration with government ministries, tourism experts, and local communities.

The Zoological Society of San Diego (ZSSD) will strengthen local community involvement in conserving gorillas and chimpanzees in the Ebo Forest of Cameroon. ZSSD will engage communities and build local leadership to monitor and reduce threats to gorilla habitats, investigate new ways to conserve chimpanzees, gather information on biodiversity, and secure appropriate protection of parts of the forest.

Also receiving grants this funding cycle were:

To learn about all Arcus grants awarded since 2007, please explore this page.