Protecting Great Apes and Gibbons through Health Research, Community Partnerships, Sanctuary Care

December 21, 2021

The latest grants in Arcus’ Great Apes & Gibbons Program go to longstanding and new partners implementing an array of approaches to conservation. From wildlife monitoring to public health, challenging exploitation to providing sanctuary, these organizations are working on many different fronts to protect the world’s great apes and gibbons.

Linking human and nonhuman ape health and culture
The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research received support to improve public health and minimize the risk of introducing SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory illnesses in great ape habitats through testing great apes, researchers, and tourists at Côte d’Ivoire’s Taï National Park, one of the last remaining areas of primary rainforest in West Africa, as well as national parks in the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and Republic of the Congo. The Helmholtz Centre will share results with local health authorities and endorse vaccination of local people to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Lincoln Park Zoological Society received funding for the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, which has conducted research to mitigate the threats to chimpanzees and gorillas in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Congo Basin for two decades. The grant will support work to protect intact forest, monitor ape and community health, and establish a sustainable, locally run gorilla ecotourism enterprise.

Health in Harmony was awarded a grant to work with local communities to reduce destruction of a vital habitat in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park in Kalimantan, Indonesia, where orangutans have been reintroduced by International Animal Rescue. Since lack of access to healthcare in the remote villages around the park is a primary driver of illegal logging in the area—as people seek ways to pay for medical services and transportation to clinics—the grant will be used to improve and increase local care and to support alternative livelihood activities.

The Chimbo Foundation will use funding for ongoing work to strengthen conservation in Boé, Guinea-Bissau, where the chimpanzee population exhibits the rare behavior of drumming on specific trees with stones in forests that local people consider sacred. The project aims to link chimpanzee and human culture as a conservation strategy, supporting villages in registering and protecting sacred sites and safeguarding the forests.

Protecting an endangered gibbon
Two grants will support conservation of the endangered southern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus siki), a species found only in southern Lao PDR and north-central Vietnam.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will protect the southern white-cheeked gibbon in the Phou Hin Poun National Protected Area in Lao PDR through trainings, community outreach, threat monitoring, design interventions, zoning, biodiversity monitoring, and research.

The Viet Nature Conservation Centre will monitor populations of the gibbon living outside protected areas in Vietnam, and strengthen collaborations with local communities and law enforcement, as part of a broader effort toward long-term, sustainable conservation.

Sanctuary and increased respect and value for apes
African Parks Foundation of America (APFA) received support to safeguard the Lossi Gorilla Sanctuary, an area designated for conservation by local communities in Republic of the Congo. APFA will use funding for a survey to learn more about the impact of the sanctuary on local people and wildlife; biodiversity and wildlife monitoring; community engagement; and infrastructure development and maintenance. The project also includes piloting sustainable, community-run, income-generating activities.

Project Primate received funding to strengthen the capacity of the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre in Guinea, where rescued chimpanzee orphans are rehabilitated. The grant will support the training and leadership development of local staff, as well as the replacement of a critical vehicle as the sanctuary builds toward long-term sustainability and resilience.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) received a grant for work to end the use of great apes in entertainment, and eliminate inappropriate and harmful depictions of chimpanzees and other great apes in advertising, film and television, social media, greeting cards, tourism marketing, and other platforms.

Also receiving grants this funding cycle were:

  • Environment and Rural Development Foundation for conservation of Cross River gorillas and Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees in the Lebialem Highlands of Cameroon.
  • Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) to support its outreach, peer networking, and accreditation programs for ape range sanctuaries and rescue centers, ensuring the highest possible standards of captive care.
  • Nature Conservation Foundation to support Indigenous-led conservation of the eastern hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys) in the Elopa Community Conserved Area in northeast India’s Dibang Valley.
  • Re:wild, as part of a collaboration of NGOs and sanctuaries, to conserve Grauer’s gorillas in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • United Organization for Batwa Development in Uganda to support an approach to great ape and protected area conservation in Uganda that centers the rights of the Indigenous Batwa community, and a dedicated grant for crisis response and preparedness.
  • World Hope International to bolster Indigenous Bunong stewardship of conservation of the yellow-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae) in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia.

Learn about all Arcus grants awarded since 2007.