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 Thursday, 8 September 2005

The first meeting of the Council of the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP Council), chaired by Moses Mapesa Wafula, Executive Director, Uganda Wildlife Authority, concluded its work today, meeting in plenary throughout the day. In the morning, delegates agreed to the GRASP Outline Work Plan for 2003-2007 (2003-2007 Work Plan) and to the GRASP outline of Current Priorities (GRASP Current Priorities). In the afternoon, delegates finalized a draft decision on these documents, elected members and the chair of the Executive Committee, were briefed on the draft declaration from the Intergovernmental Meeting (IGM), and elected the chair of the GRASP Council.

In the morning, delegates first heard a statement on behalf of indigenous groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), represented by the UNION FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF INDIGENOUS WOMEN (UEFA), referring to the plight of the Pigmy people living in forestry ecosystems in the DRC. She asked that range State indigenous peoples be recognized as members of GRASP and called for a coherent programme of social measures.

From left to right: 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, First GRASP Council Meeting Chair Mapesa Wafula and Melanie Virtue, GRASP Secretariat, field questions on the workplan for 2003-2007


Delegates then considered and agreed the amended 2003-2007 Work Plan. Regarding Output 3.2 (improving modern law-enforcing techniques), delegates agreed to a proposal by CAMEROON to include the implementation of training in both “internal and trans-boundary law enforcement operations” and “awareness-raising within national judiciary and legal systems”. Delegates also stressed the need to involve existing military forces in law enforcement efforts, with UNESCO highlighting the success of such activities in rhino conservation in Nepal. 

Regarding Output 3.4 (strengthening of scientific expertise on great apes), delegates agreed to a further proposal by CAMEROON that the GRASP Partnership “support veterinarian field programmes in great ape disease issues, including the setting up of early warning systems for Ebola and anthrax, based on ape ‘die-offs’”.  Regarding Output 4.1 (pilot projects in great ape conservation), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) said that both Cross-river and Mountain gorillas would almost certainly be listed under the convention and that the text be amended accordingly.

Denys Gauer, French Ambassador for the Environment, accepts the nomination of France to the GRASP Council as a representative of non-range State governments
Bernard De Schrevel, Attaché de la Coopération au Développement, Secteur agriculture et sécurité alimentaire, Belgium, takes the floor
Stephen Takang Ebai, Director of Wildlife and Protected Areas representing Cameroon following its selection as the new GRASP Council
Yvette Kaboza (left) of the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO and Dominique Auger of the UNEP Grasp Secretariat, behind the scenes translating one of the meeting documents

During the discussion, the REPUBLIC OF CONGO, CAMEROON and others raised the importance of monitoring and addressing animal/human health issues and noted that GRASP should be supportive of this work. Delegates also debated a proposal by CAMEROON for the compilation by GRASP of a database of range State NGOs, noting current work in this regard by organizations such as IUCN, but agreed to consider formal action on this at the next GRASP Council meeting. Regarding focal point support, Ian Redmond said an informal document on the role of focal points had been prepared by the Technical Support Team, and will be circulated to delegates for use as a guide for national action.

Delegates then discussed the “Current Priorities” document. IVORY COAST noted the need to ensure that financial resources are available for GRASP activities. CAMEROON stressed the need to ensure that changes made to the GRASP Outline Work Plan document are reflected in this document. Delegates then approved the document.

WORLD CONSERVATION SOCIETY then introduced a draft decision that summarizes decisions taken on both the 2003-2007 Work Plan and the GRASP Current Priorities document. UNEP proposed adding a reference to the national strategies range States are developing as providing the overarching framework for the activities that the GRASP Partnership is undertaking. Stanley Johnson suggested recording that the GRASP Council unanimously adopted the 2003-2007 Work Plan. Several delegates discussed the need to insert wording that invites the Executive Committee to consult with the GRASP partners in the development of 2006-2007 Work. Following these and other textual amendments, delegates agreed to the draft decision.

Delegates then elected the members of the Executive Committee, which will consist of Indonesia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, the United Kingdom, France, UNEP, UNESCO, CITES, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Orangutan Foundation-UK.

Delegates then unanimously elected Cameroon as the new chair of the GRASP Council. Speaking for the Government of Cameroon, Stephen Takang Ebai noted his government’s commitment to GRASP, and stated that his government would forward to the GRASP Secretariat the name of the individual selected as the chair. Delegates then thanked outgoing Chair Moses Mapesa for his work, and expressed their appreciation to those who organized this meeting, especially the GRASP Secretariat. The meeting closed at 4:50pm.

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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