Guest Blogger: Lori Robinson from AFRICAINSIDE.ORG
Day One of The Great Ape Summit gathered the most dedicated and passionate scientists, conservationists, NGO’s, government officials, economists, behavior ecologists, and researchers, working to save the world’s Great Apes (Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Orangutans).
To examine the costs of consumption on our closest living relatives, and to think outside of the box for new workable solutions that bring together the industries, governments, businesses, and local communities as partners.
Throughout their ranges (Great Apes are found in S E Asia and Africa) all Great Apes are either listed as critically endangered, or endangered, due to habitat loss from extractive activities for oil and minerals, logging, human encroachment, large scale agriculture, disease and live capture.
The loss of habitat is happening at an alarmingly fast rate. Too fast for apes -which are highly sensitive to change, and have slow reproductive rates – to recover from.
During todays panels, experts presented facts on the apes decline, as well as areas of hope where efforts to save them are working.
For a summary of the highlights read on.
REASONS FOR CONCERN:
- Human activities are pushing great ape populations to the brink of extinction.
- There aren’t enough protected areas.
- The areas that are protected (even World Heritage Sites) are where the majority of the extractions (minerals and oil), and logging is occurring, meaning protected areas aren’t enforced.
- Agriculture (like Palm Oil Plantations) is replacing pristine forests, and is the number 1 threat to Great Ape Populations.
- Diseases from increased human contact are killing great apes.
- The Bush meat trade is increasing due to humans encroaching on wildlife.
- Even though it’s illegal to kill Orangatans in Indonesia, the companies cutting down the forest (which kills the apes) are not considered responsible. The laws don’t apply to companies. This is true in all Great Ape Habitats.
- Wildlife Crimes have only recently begun to be taken seriously. People like Hilary Clinton, and the British Royalty are helping highlight the severity of wildlife crimes and the need for stricter rules, stricter penalties and a global awareness that wildlife crimes are huge business.
- Political un-stability will undo decades of conservation success.
- Once a forest is destroyed, it is gone forever.
- We are only now beginning to realize that ‘Loss of Biodiversity’ is as important a global concern as ‘Global Warming’.
- North America and European Nations are extracting oil in World Heritage Designated Sites in Africa. European and N. American banks are funding deforestation in Asia despite the protests of citizens and NGOs.
REASONS FOR HOPE:
- We have new tools, ideas and strategies for working together to save Great Apes.
- There are marginalized areas of land that can be used for agricultural to replace the destruction of pristine areas.
- People care.
- Governments are making more stringent laws like high monetary fines and jail time. For instance Kenya has a developed a new website where poachers are ‘named and shamed’.
- We know that poverty elimination is directly related to saving wildlife, and there is a huge emphasis on local community involvement in conservation efforts.
- Businesses that use sustainable practices are receiving (in some cases) a premium for those products.
- Drones are being used for Conservation to ensure industries are sticking to the guidelines, to catch poachers, and to map areas and monitor them.
- We now know we have to partner with the industries engaged in extraction and logging, the governments who are in desperate need of money to raise their national economy, the scientists, conservationists and the local communitites if we are to save the Great Apes Habitats.
If there is hope for the world’s Great Apes, and if there are solutions to be found to save them, I have no doubt the people gathered at this Summit will find the answers.
But in the end, each and every one of us has a responsibility to be personally involved in changing and reducing our own individual consumptive lifestyles. Saving the Great Apes will require a world wide effort involving each and every one of us.
Let us know your comments. We love to hear from you.