New Great Apes Support Focuses on Habitat Safeguards, Protection Laws, and Anti-Poverty Steps

March 18, 2013

The world’s dwindling population of orangutans has received a new round of support this year from the Arcus Foundation, with seven grants announced in March, including one to an organization working in the Indonesian forest home of world’s largest orangutan population.

Improved forest surveillance and management, stronger patrol teams, construction of dams and training of fire-fighters in southern Borneo’s fragile Sabangau habitat have resulted, in recent years, from collaboration between local partners and the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project.

By seeking to preserve the peat under-layer in Sabangau, the Peatland Project not only protects the home of an orangutan population estimated at 6,900 in 2003, but also aims to reduce the contribution to global warming of carbon gases released when the peat layer is disturbed.

The project aims to increase its staff capacity in Sabangau, contribute more scientific research to the field, and expand its fire-fighter training.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, TRAFFIC International aims to support better policing of the black-market ape trade in neighboring Malaysia and Thailand and continue its efforts to strengthen laws that reduce the sale of animals used for “wild meat.”

TRAFFIC trains enforcement officers and conducts research on illegal trade patterns to illustrate the seriousness of wildlife crimes to judiciaries in the region.Its workhas led to high-profile wildlife seizures involving protected species of animals and plants.

In one of the world’s other major great ape ranges, in East Africa, the International Institute for Environment and Development is receiving support to increase the participation of government policymakers—in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Cameroon—in antipoverty forms of conservation.

The organization’s expanding Poverty and Conservation Learning Group seeks to balance the objectives of conservation organizations with the needs of very poor communities that rely on wildlife and forest resources for their livelihoods.

In Central Africa’s Republic of Congo, the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Goualougo Triangle Ape Projecthas made significant progress in its research on great apes, influencing forestry policy over two million hectares of forest.

Seeking long-term solutions, the Ape Project will work with logging interests to expand research and mapping that will track the impact of logging, poaching, and the transmission of human-introduced pathogens on the ape population.

Along the Cavally River corridor that borders Ivory Coast and neighboring Liberia, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation has been working to improve survival chances of the local West African Chimpanzee population, which has been decreasing steadily since the 1970s.

The Foundation works in the Tai-Sapo Forest Complex to protect chimpanzees from the threats of illegal hunting and to encourage their reproduction by providing education about the environment and alternative livelihoods and training of park wardens.

Chief among the Foundation’s strategies is work with school children, educating the next generation about the importance of conserving chimp populations and identifying populations in need of protection.

Captive primates are also to receive support from the latest round of funding with a contribution to San Francisco–based Community Initiatives which is developing the professional infrastructure of the newly formed North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance(NAPSA).

A membership organization, NAPSA is aiming to ensure high-quality care at the sanctuary homes of primates that have been victims of biomedical research, the entertainment industry, or the exotic pet trade. Among its members is Save the Chimps,in Florida, which accommodates 264 rescued chimpanzees and is the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary.