Every year EAZA focuses on a different group of threatened species - this year the focus is on the great apes and the gibbons.
By CEC member Eoghan O’Sullivan
The EAZA Ape Campaign will see zoos around Europe making a special effort throughout 2011 to inform their visitors about the threats to apes and their habitats. According to the IUCN Red List all of the great apes are either Endangered or Critically Endangered, with a similar situation for all bar one of the gibbon species.
This EAZA campaign highlights the three major threats to apes: habitat loss, hunting and disease. Through formal and informal education, events and outreach activities, participating zoos will raise awareness among visitors about the threats to these charismatic animals, which are of course perennial favourites in zoos. At the time of writing 125 zoos have already signed up to participate in the campaign, with more joining every week. We’re also encouraging schools to get involved, with resources available for teachers to focus on apes in the classroom.
Fundraising is an equally important aspect of this campaign, where the aim is to create an EAZA Ape Conservation Fund from which support can be given to carefully chosen field projects that directly address the threats identified. Four projects have already been selected as case studies:
- Awely Green Caps – addressing the hunting and trade of Bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- FFI Cao Vit Gibbon Conservation Project – addressing threats to gibbon habitat in China and Vietnam
- Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme – working to ensure long-term survival of orangutans in Malaysian Borneo
- Dja Biosphere Reserve – addressing threats to chimpanzees and gorillas in Cameroon
Other projects will be invited to apply for funds later in 2011. The ambitious target of the EAZA Ape Campaign is to raise €1 million to fund projects. This would go a long way towards helping us fulfil the aim of the campaign: to make a significant and lasting contribution to the continued survival of apes and their habitats.
If you’re in Europe, why not visit your local EAZA member zoo in the coming months to find out how they’re contributing to the EAZA Ape Campaign?
Find out more about the campaign here: www.apecampaign.org