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 Wednesday, 7 September 2005

The first meeting of the Council of the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP Council) met on Wednesday in plenary throughout the day. In the morning, delegates elected Moses Mapesa Wafula, Executive Director, Uganda Wildlife Authority, as President of GRASP Council, adopted the agenda, received reports from the GRASP Interim Executive Committee (IEC), the Interim Scientific Commission, the Technical Support Team, and the GRASP secretariat, and began consideration of proposed revisions to the draft GRASP Global Strategy. In the afternoon, delegates agreed the draft GRASP Global Strategy and the draft rules for the organization and management of the GRASP Partnership.

Opening of the meeting with the Secretary-General of the IGM/GRASP & Election of the Chair of the GRASP Council Meeting/Adoption of the Agenda

Samy Mankoto, Secretary General of GRASP, opened the meeting by summarizing the work of the Intergovernmental Meeting (IGM) and outlining the agenda for the GRASP Council meeting. He then introduced Moses Mapesa Wafula, Executive Director, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Chair of the IEC. Delegates then acclaimed Mr Mapesa Wafula as Chair of the GRASP Council.

In his introductory remarks, Chair Mapesa Wafula highlighted Uganda’s role in activities to protect great apes, and indicated his willingness to share Uganda’s work with others. Delegates then approved the agenda as presented.

Ian Redmond reports on the activities of the Technical Support Teams

Mark Leighton, Co-Chair of the Interim Scientific Commission (ISC) presents the report of the Commission

Aggrey Rwetsiba, Monitoring and Research Coordinator of the Uganda Wildlife Authority in Kampala, Uganda presents the report of the GRASP Interim Executive Committee

Reports from the GRASP Interim Executive Committee, Interim Scientific Commission, Technical Support Team, and the GRASP Secretariat

Chair Mapesa Wafula summarized the work of the Interim Executive Committee (IEC), noting that the purpose of the IEC was twofold: to ensure that GRASP partners are part of the decision-making process for great ape conservation; and, to allow for a governing structure to exist until formal rules are adopted.

Aggrey Rwetsiba, Uganda Wildlife Authority, then summarized the Terms of Reference for the IEC, and highlighted the organization of the IGM as a key activity of the IEC. He concluded by urging delegates to continue to work collaboratively and noted that all partners have a leadership position in the preservation of great apes.

Dr. Mark Leighton, co-chair of the ISC, next outlined the ISC’s work to date, highlighting the preparation of a draft preliminary list of priority populations and sites of the 14 great ape taxa, compiled by taxon-specific expert working groups. He emphasized the very different levels of available information for taxa and urged range states to work with the ISC to further develop the list. He concluded by directing delegates to maps depicting the populations and sites (

Mr. Ian Redmond, Head of the GRASP Technical Support Team (TST), then gave an overview of the TST team members, and the role of the TST within the GRASP Partnership which included: building the GRASP partnership; providing support to the range State focal points; raising awareness, for example through the Great Apes Film Initiative (; and assisting many of the range States in developing their National great apes survival plans (NGASPs). He concluded by reminding delegates that they need to decide whether there would be further TSTs under the permanent GRASP structure.

Mapesa Wafula, the Chair of the First GRASP Council Meeting
Robert Hepworh, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species
Melanie Virtue, GRASP Secretariat, responds to questions from the GRASP members

Melanie Virtue, UNEP GRASP Secretariat, provided details on the Secretariat’s income and expenditure from 2003-2005. On income, she highlighted UNEP’s commitments, and those of the Governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and Denmark, and of the private sector. She noted that the contract with the European Commission is not yet finalized, and that UNEP has therefore loaned money to GRASP with the expectation that it will soon be recouped. On expenditures, she cited activities, which include NGASPs, technical assistance, field projects, partnership strengthening, information/awareness raising, fundraising, and operations.

Natarajan Ishwaran, UNESCO, noted that his organization is trying to use this meeting as a way to look forward in assuming specific task-related responsibilities related to range States, and that UNESCO wants to know how much of the secretariat load will be at the UN level and what can be shared with other partners. He stated that while they are helping with logistical items now, this is done in an ad-hoc manner since there is no GRASP section at UNESCO.


During the ensuing discussion, the REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO said that data should be collected on great ape populations in sites that are not protected, while the CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC and BURUNDI each suggested specific areas that should be studied. In response, the Interim Scientific Commission (ISC) indicated its desire to undertake such research. GRASP SECRETARIAT noted the need to develop a more systemic approach to choosing projects, and that it is working with ISC to develop criteria.

Responding to a question about non-governmental contributions, the ORANGUTAN FOUNDATION-UK cited the types of contributions that such organizations make. LUKURU WILDLIFE RESEARCH PROJECT asked about GRASP’s relationship with GRASP-Japan and GRASP-Australia, to which UNESCO and IAN REDMOND noted that while each is self-financed and self-generated they are collaborating with GRASP. CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, with support from the TST, highlighted the importance of public awareness-raising.

Global Strategy for the Survival of Great Apes

The GRASP Council considered a conference room paper with proposed revisions to the draft GRASP Global Strategy, which was introduced by Stanley Johnson. Delegates agreed to the revised text, which included: adding promotion of education and sensitization of local populations to GRASP’s immediate objectives; the establishment of an internal focal point to inform international and regional agencies and groupings of GRASP activities; and to remove reference to viability of great ape populations in the overall goal of GRASP on the proviso that GRASP work plans specify that viability is used as a criterion when prioritizing populations for conservation.

Rules for the Organization and Management of the GRASP Partnership

Stanley Johnson then led delegates through a clause-by-clause review of the rules for the organization and management. Among the major areas of discussion was a proposal by UGANDA that the chair of the Executive Committee and GRASP Council should be the same person. Delegates instead agreed to a proposal by CAMEROON that the posts remain separate but that the Chair of the Executive Committee comes from a range state. Delegates also agreed to increase the size of the Executive Committee to 11 members (4 from range States, 2 from non-range States, one member each from UNEP and UNESCO, one from biodiversity and conservation-related MEAs and international organizations and institutions, and 2 from non-governmental organizations) and to make 5 members the minimum quorum for the meeting. The GRASP Council then agreed to adopt the rules, as amended.


Participants discussed the draft rules for the organization and the management of the GRASP Partnership throughout the afternoon session
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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