Saving King Kong: UNEP and Partners Work to Save Gorillas


The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species signs a contract with other partners to undertakes initiative for the conservation of Gorillas in 10 African States on February 7,2006.   

The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species signs a contract with other partners to undertakes initiative for the conservation of Gorillas in 10 African States on February 7,2006.     

While the remake of the story of  the most famous gorilla ever is playing in theatres worldwide, showing a sensitive but powerful beast walking around the paths of metropolitan jungles and fighting against urban police, his  African brothers and sisters face a harder battle for survival.         



Photo UNEP

Gorillas are the largest Great Apes on the planet and, as they share 98 % of their DNAs with humans, could really be considered our close cousins. They are currently found in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, where they are exposed to a series of threats which are increasingly affecting their habitats and their own lives.                            
Indeed, contact with the human world is deadly dangerous. It is actions of their furless cousins, rapidly building new settlements, expanding agricultural areas, depleting forests for logging and mining and fighting wars and fueling conflicts which is taking away their peace and homeland. “King Kong might scare American police in fiction, but in reality cannot prevent humans from poaching for bushmeat, and capturing live young specimens, for sale. “says Mr. Hepworth, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species, an international agreement for the protection of wildlife and their habitats under the United Nations Environment   

“In addition,” continues Mr. Hepworth, “increased close contact with humans is a potential source of disease. Very high degree of similarity in the genome of gorillas and humans makes them susceptible to many of the same diseases without having developed the same immunities. The spread of Ebola virus among high-density populations of Western Lowland Gorilla in Central Africa is an example”.                                                                           
With these problems in mind, as well as the need to contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable development for the local populations whose incomes are often based on unsustainable use of wildlife, the Convention on Migratory Species is initiating work to develop an international Agreement on Gorillas. This agreement, to be signed by the relevant African Range States, will envisage a number of joint activities, programmes and projects to be undertaken by the Convention and the Range States to conserve existing populations of the species.            

“These types of initiatives”, stresses Mr. Alfredo Guillet, representative of the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is amongst the donors, “promote Transboundary cooperation in countries which need an open dialogue to address also their environmental challenges. Migratory species could be the trait d’union and the common ground for these countries to collaborate, discuss common problems, and jointly implement environmental solutions and thus encourage Transboundary cooperation and peace. This is why the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers Transboundary environmental issues as a priority for international cooperation”.                                                         
It is expected that the Agreement will be ready to for signature and entry into force by the end of 2008. CMS has signed today a contract to work in close collaboration with the Institut Royal des Sciences de Belgique which will lead to the drafting of the Agreement and the preparation of proposals for conservation, capacity-building and confidence raising measures to facilitate the protection of gorillas and their ecosystems (including World Heritage Sites) and dependent human populations. Negotiation sessions to finalize documents with Governments and other stakeholders, and to agree on a project portfolio will also be organized in the months to come.  

UNEP/GRASP and UNESCO are also partners to this initiative. CMS is inviting other partners to join in this conservation endeavor, trying to save our close, harmless, cousins.                 
For more information and to join the initiative please contact:                                                                                                                           
Paola Deda                                                                                      
External relations                                                                              
UNEP/CMS Secretariat                                                                    

Tel: (+49) 228 815 2462                       


UN Environment Programme is solely responsible for the contents of this press release: Bonn, 7 February.

UNEP Contact:
Jim Sniffen
Information Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210

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