Year of the Gorilla (YoG) launched in Rome after first Meeting of the Parties to the CMS Gorilla Agreement
Rome / Bonn – The YoG 2009 was officially launched at the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Conference of Parties in Rome.
Launched by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco at the opening of the conference, YoG aims to support conservation of these close relatives of humankind and their habitats by boosting the livelihoods and incomes of local people.
The initiative also aims to improve the management of national and cross border populations of primates and ones living in National Parks by strengthening cooperation between range states and providing improved support for rangers and other key personnel. Experts last week met under the new Gorilla Agreement coordinated by UN Environment Programme’s Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP-CMS). Here they adopted a comprehensive action plan to support the upcoming Year.
The action plan includes a range of inspiring and transformational projects available for backing by governments, business, civil society groups and individuals.
Titus, a Mountain Gorilla Silverback. Volcanoes Park, Rwanda. Picture by Ian Redmond, GRASP.Examples of projects
• Tests in the Democratic Republic of Congo have found that locally made ‘Rocket Stoves’ can cut charcoal and wood use by up to 70 per cent. Expanding the pilot to thousands of homes in the region could help reduce pressure on gorilla forest habitats; boost incomes and livelihoods for local people and improve air quality in local homes.
• A second pilot project, this time in Cameroon, is boosting alternative livelihoods in order to reduce commercial hunting of bushmeat—the Year of Gorilla plans to expand the ‘Apiarists for the Apes’ (an Apiarist is a beekeeper) programme to more communities.
• Rwanda and Uganda are two countries generating significant economic returns from apebased eco-tourism. Indeed tourism, linked to a significant extent with Rwanda’s Mountain Gorilla populations now surpasses coffee and tea exports as Rwanda’s number one foreign exchange earner. It is planned to dispatch guides and operators from successful eco-tourism programme in East Africa to countries such as Gabon in order to boost the success of eco-tourism initiatives in West Africa.
The Year of the Gorilla (YoG) is a joint initiative of the UNEP-CMS, the UNEP/UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
CMS and its partners have committed themselves to developing and implementing the Gorilla Agreement. It provides the gorilla range states, as well as the other governments and organisations involved, with a legal framework that will reinforce and integrate conservation efforts.
The full YoG launch press release, which received global coverage from a large number and scope of media, can be read here.
It includes information on key threats, the current situation and necessary conservation action and is also available in French, Spanish and German.
YoG Patron Dr. Jane Goodall issued a statement on the occasion of the YoG launch. Read it here.
<strong>Gorilla Agreement: First Meeting of the Parties</strong>
In the run-up to the 9th Meeting of the CMS Conference of the Parties in Rome, the currently six parties of the CMS Gorilla Agreement, other gorilla range states, involved countries and representatives of conservation NGOs such as WWF, IUCN and WCS came together for the 1st Meeting of Parties to this legally binding agreement, which aims to conserve gorillas and their habitats.
The core issue of the meeting was the discussion and later adoption of Action Plans laying out the key conservation action necessary to safeguard the long-term survival of the 4 gorilla taxa. They range from the Western Lowland Gorilla and the Cross River Gorilla in western Central Africa to the Eastern Lowland and Mountain Gorilla in the East, in the border region of the Dem. Rep. of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
The Action Plans take into account local and species-specific requirements for effective conservation measures and are based on the 2007 Action Plans by IUCN. Some gorilla populations regularly cross national boundaries, such as Mountain Gorillas between Rwanda and the DRC.
The CMS Scientific Council, which preceded the Gorilla MoP, commends that the CMS and its members give the newly formed Gorilla Agreement all support needed to enable its successful implementation.
The meeting came just days before the official launch of the Year of the Gorilla 2009.