WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY APPLAUDS NEW INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT TO SAVE GREAT APES
NEW YORK (Sept. 13, 2005) – The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that a new international agreement signed last week in the Democratic Republic of Congo will play a key role in safeguarding and improving populations of the world’s great apes, including gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans.
The agreement, signed Friday, Sept. 9th in the capital city of Kinshasa, set a target of 2010 for “securing a constant and significant reduction in the current rate of loss of great ape populations and their habitats; and, by 2015, securing the future of all species and subspecies of great apes in the wild.”
The agreement sets out an ambitious plan where stronger legal actions would be enacted to control poaching and habitat loss in the 23 countries where great apes live. At the same time, the agreement calls on the international community to provide key funding, as many of the great apes range countries are among the poorest in the world.
The Kinshasa conference was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as part of the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP), set up in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
“This landmark agreement is the life insurance policy great apes so desperately need,” said Matthew Hatchwell of WCS, one of GRASP’s founding groups and one of two non-governmental organizations that sit on its executive committee. “We are extremely heartened that the international community has pledged support for great ape conservation so that this world treasure can be saved. GRASP now represents a broader coalition of people and organizations than have ever signed up to this type of agreement before.”
Great apes include chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and all four subspecies of gorilla. The Wildlife Conservation Society is working to save great apes throughout their range with ongoing conservation work taking place in key sites in Central Africa and Asia.
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