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The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the UN Environment-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) launched the Apes Seizure Database at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Information in the database will support monitoring and enforcement efforts against environmental crime and inform efforts towards great ape conservation in the future.

grasp_unep_wcmc29 September 2016: The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the UN Environment-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) launched the Apes Seizure Database at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Information in the database will support monitoring and enforcement efforts against environmental crime and inform efforts towards great ape conservation in the future.

The database includes 1,400 seizure records from any removal of great apes from unlawful situations dating back to 2005. The database shows seizures recoded in 23 nations, nearly half of which took place in non-range States from Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The system is designed to meet the needs of people providing data, allowing users with poor or unstable internet connections to upload data and providers to upload records from the field using smart phones.

Orangutans make up 67% of all entries in the database, typically as a result of deforestation and other habitat loss, including from the agricultural expansion for palm oil and pulp and paper industries in Borneo and Sumatra. Other animals in the database include chimpanzees (24%), gorillas (6%) and bonobos (3%).

“For too long, the illegal trade in great apes was anecdotal, and therefore difficult to judge in terms of scale and scope,” said Doug Cress, GRASP. He explained that the Apes Seizure Database makes “the numbers plain to see,” and can help identify particular areas of concern in Africa or Asia and highlight trends in species status. “Any illegal trade in great apes — whether it crosses international borders or not — needs to be considered a very real threat to the survival of these endangered species,” said UN Environment (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim. He stressed, “Illegal trade can only push them all that much closer to extinction, and it needs to be stopped.”

CITES is taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa. All great apes are listed on CITES’ Appendix I, with Bornean orangutans, Grauer’s gorillas and Western chimpanzees downgraded to critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. [GRASP Press Release] [UNEP-WCMC Press Release] [Database] [IISD RS Coverage of CITES]


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