Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes and first Council Meeting for the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP)
5-9 September 2005 | Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Daily Web Coverage

 Summary report




12 September 2005

Highlights from Tuesday, 6 September 2005

The first IGM on Great Apes reconvened today with Chair Musibono inviting further statements from the floor.  

Delegate Statements: Range States outlined some of the national actions taken towards conserving the great apes and outlined the particular threats facing the great ape species in their country. BURUNDI and the RURAL ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION (Rwanda) highlighted the impact of their country’s socio-political crises on both human and great ape populations, and GUINEA said the influx of refugees over the past 5 years had contributed to the destruction of his country’s natural habitat. The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC underscored the difficult and hostile nature of the environment the great apes inhabit and said survival of the great apes is predicated on overall economic restructuring. Several range States pledged their commitment to GRASP and called for technical and financial assistance in implementing their national great apes survival plans. CAMEROON and others emphasized the importance of involving local communities in biodiversity conservation initiatives and the CONGO BASIN FOREST PARTNERSHIP drew delegates attention to their website and pilot projects being carried out with the private sector.

ITALY emphasized the potential of the great apes as a resource and urged range States not to allow their extinction. The BORN FREE FOUNDATION urged partners to set aside individual agendas and to abandon apathy, cynicism and resignation to achieve their common goal.

In a video presentation, GRASP Patron Jane Goodall urged partners to commit to a conservation approach based on partnership with the people living in and around the great apes habitats.

The GRASP IGM dais with (from left) Natarajan Ishwaran, Director of the UNESCO Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences and Secretary of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB), Samy Mankoto, Secretary General of GRASP, Professor D. E. Musibono, Chair of the IGM, Melanie Virtue, GRASP Secretariat, and Stanley Johnson, Advisor on the IGM
Dr. Peter J. Stephenson from the Africa and Madagascar Programme at WWF International

Veerle Vandeweerd, director of UNEP's Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities
Stanley Johnson, Advisor on the Inter-Governmental Meeting presents the GRASP Global Strategy


GRASP Global Strategy: Stanley Johnson outlined the draft GRASP Global Strategy for the Survival of the Great Apes, explaining the draft text with the participants comments would be submitted to the GRASP Council for consideration over the following 2 days. Comments included proposals that: all range States be considered for permanent GRASP membership with collective veto powers; GRASP create an anti-poaching data intelligence network and the strategy should include collaboration with the CITES Bushmeat Working Group and Great Ape Enforcement Task Force in GRASP’s longer term objectives. 

William Travers, Chief Executive of the Born Free Foundation

Damascene Gashumba, Executive Director of the Rural Environment and Development Organization in Kigali, Rwanda
Dr. Patrick Mehlman, Vice President of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

GRASP Rules: Melanie Virtue, UNEP GRASP Secretariat, outlined the GRASP initiative history, structure and workplan and then Stanley Johnson presented an outline of the draft GRASP rules, and, while urging delegates not to turn GRASP into a bureaucratic organisation underscored the need to establish an organised structure. Comments from delegates included a request from a coalition of range State NGOs that GRASP undertake to strengthen national NGOs to allow for better follow-up in the field.

As part of the discussion that followed, UGANDA proposed that the Chair of the IGM and of the Council be the same individual, while the REPUBLIC OF CONGO cited the need to ask States that have great apes in captivity.

Delegates agreed to provide written comments on the Rules to the Secretariat so that the Council can consider them on Wednesday.

Hemmo Muntingh, Senior Policy Advisor for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Henri Djombo, Minister of Forest Economy and the Environment of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville
Christophe Besacier, Regional Counselor for Forests and Environment at the French Embassy in Gabon

GRASP Workplan and Distinctive Approach: Melanie Virtue, UNEP GRASP Secretariat, presented on the existing GRASP workplan and introduced a new document that outlines GRASP’s current priorities. She noted that many of the targets contained in the 2003-2007 workplan have already been met, and that the Secretariat has produced a document summarizing achievements. She noted that the IGM might wish to charge the Executive Committee to work with the Secretariat on developing a new workplan. Included in the discussion were comments by CAMEROON, supported by the UNITED STATES and IFAW, that law enforcement should be broadened to include internal and cross-border anti-poaching and support for national judiciaries and legal systems. The UNITED STATES noted that such support need not be financially burdensome, and could include technical expertise, information sharing, and cooperation between international organizations.  Delegates will provide written comments to the Secretariat so that the GRASP Council can consider how to move forward.

GRASP Kinshasa Declaration:The drafting group, chaired by Eric Blencowe, UK, met twice during the day in the lunch break and in the evening, between IGM sessions, to work on revisions to the draft Kinshasa Declaration text for submission to the GRASP Council.


Eric Blencowe, Head of Zoos and International Species Conservation at DEFRA in the UK, chairs the drafting group during the lunch hour
Daily web coverage: 5 September - 6 September - 7 September - 8 September - 9 September
Relevant Links

Information and documents for the meeting
GRASP Newsletter: Published by UNEP and UNESCO, this newsletter provides up to date information on great ape species conservation
World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation: The UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) has recently published a report providing a comprehensive review of great apes, including a description of their ecology, distribution and key threats that each great ape species faces. The Atlas includes an assessment of the current status of great ape species in each of the countries where they are found, together with an overview of current conservation action and priorities, illustrated with maps:
CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is endeavoring to combat illegal international trade in apes for human consumption as bushmeat or to be kept live by private individuals, zoos and entertainment businesses. For more information, see: and http:/ 
CBD: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is involved in the debate on the effects of the bushmeat trade on biodiversity resources and is working on a cross-cutting international initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition. For more information, see: and
CMS: The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) is concentrating on the eastern species of gorilla, which crosses the mountainous border areas between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo - more information
FAO: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is increasingly concerned with the issue of bushmeat and the conciliation of food security and biodiversity conservation in Africa - more information
IUCN: IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species includes information on great apes threatened with extinction - more information

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