Save Our Closest Relatives Together.
GReat Apes Survival Project Japan Committee: GRASP-Japan
The great apes, which include gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans, are classified as a family Hominidae and they are the closest relatives of us human. They are highly intelligent, and spend highly complicated social life. They are full of curiosity, feel sympathy and compassion for colleagues. They sometimes bring up orphans until they come of age. They form alliance with some partners to confront rivals, and at the same time interrupt the formation of alliance by the rivals. They use various tools and they use some kinds of plants as medicine for parasites. They have their own cultures that are characteristic of different groups. These characters of the great apes indicate that human and other animals are indeed related, and remind us of the importance of the coexistence.
These great apes are now on the crisis of extinction. Due to the conversion of forest to farmland, logging, mining, hunting for bush, and poaching for pets, the number of great apes is rapidly decreasing. The number of each species of the great apes living in the natural forests are currently estimated to be only 20,000 to 110,000. Because habitats of great apes are fragmented, the genetic feature of their wild population is deteriorating.
In order to protect these important creatures, United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) in September 2001, and United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to work together in September 2002, when the Earth Summit was held in Johanesburg.
This project aims to integrate activities of various NGO's in the world, and undertakes various new challenges to realize coexistence of great apes and the humans. To save the great apes from extinction, it is not enough to ask the countries of origin to respect national and international laws for protection of great apes. We cannot protect great apes without solving social and economic problems of people living in the habitat of great apes. GRASP is therefore undertaking many kinds of conservation activities against illegal hunting and logging, as well as conservation education for local people and development of local industries that can substitute bushmeat trades. We, Dr. Russel Mittermeier, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Richard Leaky, and myself are working as patrons of the GRASP.
In order to support activities of GRASP, and to take the initiative in conservation of great apes, we the Japanese researchers established the GRASP-Japan in March, 2004. Since the late Dr. Kinji Imanishi made an expedition for the research of gorillas in Africa, Japanese researchers have been studying on great apes in various countries in Africa and Asia for nearly fifty years. Currently we are carrying out research in Tanzania, Uganda, D.R. Congo, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Guinea, and Indonesia. These countries cover most of the whole range of the habitat of great apes. Researchers other than Japanese researchers have not carried out research of great apes in so many countries for so long period.
Not only have our activities been restricted to the academic research on behavior and ecology of great apes, but also we have been undertaking research of ecosystem of rain forest, activities for conservation of forest and animals, and conservation education for local people. Now that great apes are confronted to the crisis of extinction, we need to exploit our knowledge and experience.
With the support by Japan Federation of Economic Organizations and many friends of ours, we are planning to start a campaign to raise funds in June 2005. GRASP-Japan consists of members from all sites where Japanese researchers are carrying out research and conservation activities. Those members set up plans for conservation based on the current situation of each site. The raised funds will be used only for the activities for conservation, including assessment for conservation planning, conservation education, support for education and medical service for local communities, and development of agriculture and livestock industry that can be substituted for non-sustainable use of forest resource.
Owing to our deep knowledge on the situation in each site, the raised funds are expected to be used very effectively for conservation of great apes. Please find the activity plan page for the seven sites and detailed plans for our activities. We would be sincerely grateful for all your understanding and kind help.Back to Page top.