New Round of Great Apes Grants To Boost Conservation and Protection Worldwide

June 7, 2013

From restoring the destroyed natural habitat of chimpanzee and orangutan populations to ensuring high-quality care of apes in captivity in the United States and around the world, a new round of Arcus Foundation grants this month aims to advance the growing international movement for long-term conservation and protection of great apes and their habitat.

Strengthening Conservation for Apes in Their Natural Habitats

Seeking to protect China’s Hainan Gibbon from being the first ape in 12,000 years to become extinct, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is planning to develop an action plan to increase the survival chances of the remaining 23 to 25 individuals in the Bawangling National Nature Reserve, on the west of Hainan Island.

ZSL will also receive support to operate a certification program aimed at ensuring that the palm oil industry’s newly-emerging production activities in West African countries such as Ghana and post-conflict Liberia are compatible with conservation of local ape populations.

Following progress in Liberia on saving the habitat of the western chimpanzee, curtailing hunting and illegal trafficking, and helping communities develop alternative livelihoods, Fauna and Flora International will receive new support for protection of this most threatened subspecies of chimpanzee, of which 75 percent have disappeared over the past 30 years.

The organization helped the government of Liberia to reestablish Sapo National Park, the country’s only national park which was devastated during the war and is the home of numerous threatened species.

Also aiming to protect fragile ecosystems, support to Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) will help the organization pursue long-term work in Malaysia’s Sabah state, on the island of Borneo, the site of the largest remaining expanse of biodiversity-rich lowland evergreen rainforest that is home to endangered orangutan populations.

According to LEAP, conservation initiatives undertaken in Sabah, with government and local support, have helped to maintain 50 percent of the state’s land area under forest cover, a figure that it plans to maintain and even increase.

LEAP works with more than 50 groups, including nongovernmental organizations, government and industry, to influence cultural traditions among local groups and create new relationships that meet longer term conservation goals.

Raising Standards for the Care of Captive Apes

Several grants in the current round are targeted toward best practices in the care of captive apes in the United States and in their range states around the world.

A new grant will enable Chicago-based Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes to partner with Louisiana’s Chimp Haven, the national sanctuary for chimps rescued from biomedical research, to explore a behavioral research program for U.S. sanctuary chimps, the first of its kind in the United States.

While the International Primate Protection League will receive support to promote the well-being of orphaned apes in their range states, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) is this year set to explore the potential for reintroducing captive apes into natural habitat.

PASA’s 22 member sanctuaries were created in response to confiscation of animals from the illegal pet trade and bush-meat hunting.