Wednesday, October 02, 2002

CONGO PLANS FOR GREAT APE SURVIVAL

Hope for great apes in the Congo

[Photo] Chimpanzee baby.

Gland, Switzerland - The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to more species of great apes than any other country in the world, with two of them (Grauer’s gorilla and the Pygmy chimpanzee or bonobo) found nowhere else. However, civil conflict and political instability have left the Congolese national parks network in a state of dereliction. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos receive little protection across most of the country and remain under constant threat from hunting and habitat destruction. As a result, many biologists fear great apes may become extinct in DRC, and indeed the rest of Africa, within the next 20 years.

But hope is in sight. From 26-28 September, nearly 200 experts from all parts of the country joined international conservationists and government Ministers in Kinshasa to prepare the first National Great Apes Survival Plan for DRC....