Grasping the Great Ape Situation

Last night I attended a talk by Dr Richard Leakey entitled Climate Change and the Great Apes: Can anything be done? It was a thought-provoking evening. Leakey covered a number of contentious issues from biofuels to nuclear energy, and poverty to mass consumerism. The main thrust of his talk was that the threat of extinction to the big four – gorillas (Gorilla beringei, G. gorilla), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), bonobos (Pan paniscus) and orangutans (Pongo abelii, P. pygmaeus) – can only be lifted by a change in behaviour by humans, the fifth great ape. Leakey outlined the work of the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) Partnership (UNEP and UNESCO) and his own on-the-ground fundraising organisation WildlifeDirect. Although only functioning in Africa at the moment (but with plans to expand) WildlifeDirect in a online fundraising website which acts as a conduit for funds to go directly to field workers and conservationists at the ground level. The website is fuelled by continuously updated blogs, written by conservation workers to give the reader a true taste of what is going on in the field.

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