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Collaborative effort to save remaining great apes

Annan calls for collaborative effort to save world’s remaining great apes

With habitat loss, disease, hunting and illegal trade driving the world’s remaining great apes to the brink of extinction, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for cooperation by governments, businesses, conservation groups and communities to ensure their survival by protecting their forest homes.

“The great apes still have a chance, but their fate lies entirely in our hands,” he said in a message to the Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes and the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“This meeting represents an opportunity for the governments where great apes still exist to consolidate progress and chart a way forward,” he added.

Mr. Annan noted that in the 23 countries, from West Africa to the island of Borneo, where the great apes still survive, their habitat has been largely reduced to isolated forest islands. The animals probably total no more than 400,000 now whereas 50 years ago they numbered at least 2 million.

“Only by protecting these remaining forests can we ensure the great apes’ survival. None of these countries is rich. All are struggling to balance the development aspirations of their people with the need to ensure environmental sustainability,” he said.

“Only by working together can governments, conservation organizations, businesses and communities mobilize the money, expertise and commitment needed to protect humankind’s closest relatives.”

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