|Although many countries in Africa are making progress towards meeting the MDGs, efforts need to be accelerated and sustained. A key challenge is ensuring food security for all, while improving the sustainability of agricultural practices and reducing the loss of precious biodiversity.
|Box 4: Great apes: global strategy and declaration
Africa is the home of two of the three genera and three of the four species of great apes, all of which are
under severe threat of extinction in the wild. The new World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation – the
most comprehensive compendium of information about great apes ever compiled – provides an alarming
assessment of their status. The major threats include bushmeat trade, and habitat loss and fragmentation
through rampant deforestation. Disease is worsening the situation dramatically: Ebola fever is advancing
through gorilla and chimpanzee heartlands, killing up to 90 per cent of populations where it passes.
To remedy the situation the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) was set up in 2002, bringing
together governmental and intergovernmental, UN institutional, non-governmental, and scientific
foundations, local community and private sector interests. Its goal is to inform policy makers, to mobilize
and pool resources for action to halt the decline of great ape populations.
The first GRASP Council Meeting, and the first Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes and the
Great Apes Survival Project, were held in September in Kinshasa. Participants adopted an ambitious
global strategy for the survival of great apes and conservation of their habitats.
The strategy involves, among other things:
● encouraging and resourcing the 23 range states in preparing and implementing national conservation
plans and expanding protected areas;
● collating and coordinating existing projects and initiatives, so as to identify gaps and set priorities;
● making sure that interactions with humans are mutually positive and sustainable;
● identifying and supporting income-generating initiatives to benefit communities living in and around great ape habitat and protected areas;
● researching and monitoring of ape habitats and populations;
● eliminating illegal transboundary traffic;
● encouraging compliance with, and enforcement of, international conventions and national laws; and
● promoting education and awareness about great apes.
Sixteen range states, along with many international and national institutions and non-governmental organizations, signed the Kinshasa Declaration
on Great Apes, affirming political will at the highest level. They pledged to ensure the long term future for all great apes and their habitat, to reduce
the current loss of great ape populations by 2010, and to secure the future of all species and subspecies of great apes in the wild by 2015.