GRASP Council Sets Bold Agenda to Save Great Apes

grasp_councilNovember 2012: Faced with declining wild ape populations and dwindling forests, the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) set law enforcement, habitat protection and political advocacy among its top priorities and emerged with renewed energy and urgency following the 2nd GRASP Council that was held 6-8 November at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

The GRASP Council is comprised of over 80 nations, conservation organizations, United Nations agencies, research institutions and private supporters committed to the long-term survival of great apes in Africa and Asia.

The GRASP Council adopted the GRASP Priority Plan 2013-2016, which includes addressing disease threats, conflict-sensitive conservation, and Green Economy as other areas of focus.

“Great apes face an uncertain future, and it will take the collective effort of GRASP to ensure their long-term survival,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “These priorities get to the very heart of the issues that have pushed chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans so much closer to extinction. But GRASP’s partners are committed to halting the downward spiral and reversing the population and habitat losses.”

The GRASP Council also adopted a revised Global Strategy for the Conservation of Great Apes and their Habitat, and approved revised Rules for the Management of GRASP that will make the partnership more streamlined and effective.

“It is extremely important that we find a way to counter habitat loss, hunting and other forms of illegal killing of great apes.” said Serge Wich, chairman of the GRASP Scientific Commission. “As it is, less than half of the great apes in Africa and Asia even live in protected areas. Most survive in degraded areas or secondary forests that leave them very vulnerable. Hunting and other forms of great ape killing are also widespread and need to be addressed as well. The other main threat to great apes is disease.”


Wild ape populations have been devastated by widespread habitat loss as a result of deforestation, mining, illegal logging, human encroachment, and conversion for agricultural development. A report issued at the 2nd GRASP Council indicated that great apes lose an average of 1.2% percent of their suitable habitat each year.

Illegal trade has also severely impacted great apes, resulting in the illicit traffic of hundreds from Africa and Asia each year into the pet trade. Preliminary results from a GRASP survey of illegal trade found that 576 orphaned great apes reached a sanctuary or rehabilitation center from 2005 to 2011, a number compounded by the fact that many apes are often killed to secure a single infant.

The lack of law enforcement and judicial rigor – only a tiny percentage of those arrivals resulted in an arrest, let alone a conviction – exacerbates the problem.

“The illegal trade of great apes is not rooted in poverty, but rather in corruption and power,” said Ofir Drori, founder of the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA), who called for deterrent convictions in both range States and implicated non-range States.

grasp 2

The GRASP Council also elected a new GRASP Executive Committee, and agreed to stage council meetings on a biennial basis.

The 2nd GRASP Council featured daily plenary sessions devoted to key issues regarding great ape conservation, including “Great Apes & Illegal Trade,” “Great Apes & Green Economy,” and “Great Apes & technology.”

GRASP was established in 2001 to respond to the conservation crisis facing great apes and lift the threat of imminent extinction by focusing on international policy, funding, research, and media. For information on GRASP, please visit

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RIGHT Tourism: Responsible, Informed, Guilt-free & Humane Tourism

Your guide to making animal friendly choices on holiday.

Tourist activities that exploit animals only continue because tourists choose to support them.  As a tourist you have a choice – to avoid cruel practices and reward positive ones.

Travelers, backpackers, wanderlusters or occasional vacationers that love animals, wildlife and wild places please look at this site. Tourism is one of the largest business sectors in the world! You may think you are helping animals when you are actually harming them. Use this site as a tool to make sure you are really benefiting animals, wildlife, the environment and locals. Just type in the destination and you’ll get a briefing on the issues for that region as well as great information for your travels. Easy right?

Tethys Research Institute

Tethys Research Institute is looking for participants to contribute to research and conservation campaigns.  There are also special discounts for students.  A week with Tethys can be transformed into credits for university.

Since 1990 Tethys has been organising whale and dolphin field courses dedicated to those who are willing to contribute to research and conservation campaigns.

These courses represent a unique opportunity of observing marine mammals in their natural environment and discover the fascinating world of cetacean research.

Participants of all nationalities are involved in activities conducted in the field including whale and dolphin sightings, data collection at sea with advanced methodologies and informal lectures by the Tethys staff.

Professional experience by the researchers involved is a trademark of Tethys courses.

Whales and dolphins of the Pelagos Sanctuary

God Jul från Vårgårda!

Happy Holidays from Sweden! I am loving my time here relaxing with my friend Magdalena’s family.  They have great food and eat all throughout the day.  Fika is between meals and is tea, coffee, cookies, sandwiches, sweets, saft, glögg etc…

Charlie Chaplin (aka Chappy the sweetest dog since my late dog Carmen) is ready for dessert.

Magdalena finishing our chocolates.

Swedish Christmas dinner served!

Edwin the mischievious.

Tarifa, España

Playa Los Lances- Tarifa, España

Hi all! I am just checking in at Tarifa, España.  I was at my favorite cafe Bien Star here on the beach chatting with some new friends yesterday and was convinced to continue my blog some more even if it is just a few photos from time to time.  I wanted to keep this site somewhat professional but at times both my personal life and professional life are the same.  My personal life tends to involve learning new things, meeting new people, and absorbing new cultures.  In a way that is research- personal research no?  So there may be a lot of out of order entries from now on recapping travels (Portugal, Greece, Fuerteventura, London, Italy etc…) from the year and they may be intermittent considering my netbook broke a few weeks ago and I don´t often have internet access.  However, recording some of my experiences versus nothing I will appreciate much more in the future and for those of you that I miss and are always writing me “where are you?” can be somewhat informed. 
I arrived in Spain a few weeks ago starting in Malaga, Granada, Nerja, and now Tarifa.  Tarifa is a very chill town at the very tip of Europe between the Mediterranean (Costa del Sol) and Atlantic Ocean (Costa de la Luz).  For this very reason it is very windy and called La Ciudad del Viento with views of Morocco just 31 km away.  I am learning kitesurfing here and just after a few hours of lessons I am standing on my board but lacking momentum.  I love it and can´t wait for the wind to pick up this Saturday again!  I also went horseback riding, paddle boarding, and visited the oldest city in Europe, Cadiz just one hour away.  Cadiz was so wonderful and beautiful I will need another entry for the daytrip I took there.  I have about a week left here waiting on the wind to go kitesurfing each day after morning refresher classes in Español 9-.30-1:30pm at La Escuela Hispalense which is located right on the beach.  My apartment as well is just a stone´s throw away from the beach.  However, it is very cold here and a ´ghost town´in the winter.  An upside is that I get private classes in both Spanish and kiting but I wouldn´t mind returning one day in primavera o otoño with warmer weather and a bit more people. 
Now I am off to cook dinner y tomar vino y cervezas with some fellow students here!

Dissertation time

I apologize for not blogging some really interesting things towards the end of my trip.  I already regret not having recorded them as well. I instead took the time to trek as much as possible for more samples and present my preliminary findings at the first Across Africa Gorilla workshop held in Ruhija. It was a wonderful conclusion to my three months working in Uganda. Also, was my visit to the Entebbe Zoo with CTPH colleague and friend Dr. Hameed just hours before my flight back to London.  I still think it was Hameed’s plan to keep me in the country via a baby elephant, I nearly missed my flight!

Overall, my experience in Uganda was amazing and productive. Now I am currently in our graduate research lab in Oxford plugging away at data analysis. You probably won’t hear from me for quite some time. Thank you for following my MSc project.