Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is this how we treat family?

In past posts, we’ve discussed illegal trafficking of various endangered species, including the illegal trade in elephant parts, reptiles (in book list), pangolins, and butterflies (in book list).  This week, I wanted to call your attention to a recent UN report on our closest cousins, “Stolen Apes: The Illicit TradeStolen Apes in Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos and Orangutans,” (here’s a link to the pdf) produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) through the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).  This report estimates that over 22,000 great apes have been lost from the wild since 2005, and that 64% of those animals were chimpanzees.  Unlike our usual culprits when it comes to threats to endangered species, we’re not looking at habitat loss, deforestation, mining, hunting for bushmeat, or pollution.  The enemy now seems to be a very well-organized network of illegal trafficking in live animals or animal parts, yet only 27 arrests were made in Asia and Africa from 2005 to 2011, and only 1/4 of those arrests were prosecuted.  Recommendations from the report include:

  • increasing protection of habitat areas
  • increased training for police officers and customs agents, as well as trans-national criminal intelligence units
  • use of national and international multi-media campaigns that discourage ownership of ownership, trade, and use of great apes, and make legal penalties clear
  • ending the use of great apes in entertainment, like movies and commercials



Stiles, D., Redmond, I., Cress, D., Nellemann, C., Formo, R.K. (eds). 2013. Stolen Apes – The Illicit Trade in Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos and Orangutans. A Rapid Response Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme, GRID-Arendal. www.grida.no

UN News Centre.  2013.  “Illicit Trade in Great Apes Increasingly Linked to Organized Crime, UN Report Finds.”  Accessed 2/26/2013.  http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44271&Cr=wildlife&Cr1=#.UVIdhBeHt8E

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