Conservation of and trade in great apes

Conservation of and trade in great apes

CONSCIOUS of the special importance of great apes, not only from a cultural and scientific point of view and as part of our natural heritage, but also as mankind’s closest living relatives;

CONCERNED that wild populations of great apes [all species of gorilla (Gorilla spp.), chimpanzee (Pan spp.)and orang-utan (Pongo spp.)] in Africa and Asia are threatened by the combined effects of trade in live animals, poaching for bushmeat, disease and habitat loss caused by disturbance, fragmentation and destruction;

CONCERNED that almost all great ape populations continue to decline drastically;

AWARE that chimpanzees are now reported to be extinct in one, and possibly in three more, of the 25 countries they once inhabited, that the Sumatran orang-utan (Pongo abelii)and three subspecies of gorilla are classified by IUCN as ‘Critically Endangered’ and that the other species and subspecies of great apes are classified as ‘Endangered’;

RECALLING that all great ape species are included in Appendix I of the Convention;

CONCERNED that illegal trade at international and national levels has been stimulated by opening up of forest habitats, increasing demand for ape meat, especially from urban populations both in range and non-range States and continuing global demand for live specimens, particularly juveniles;

COMMENDING efforts already made in a number of range and non-range States to tackle poaching and illegal trade, including repatriation of seized live specimens to the country of origin;

RECOGNIZING the need for international support to assist the 23 range States in protecting great ape populations, their habitats and related biodiversity resources;

RECOGNIZING also the need for technical guidance to assist all Parties in preventing illegal trade in live specimens and parts and derivatives of great apes, including the confiscation and subsequent treatment of live animals;

NOTING that the World Summit on Sustainable Development Great Ape Survival Partnership (WSSD GRASP) led by UNEP and UNESCO draws on the scientific expertise of the GRASP Scientific Commission, which includes members of both the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Primatological Society (IPS), and brings together range and non-range States, international conventions (including CITES and the Convention on Biological Diversity), and a range of global and national non governmental organizations;

WELCOMING the establishment of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC);

AWARE of the important role of ICCWC in bringing coordinated support to the national wildlife law enforcement agencies and to the subregional and regional networks that defend natural resources on a daily basis;

AWARE of work to support national and regional conservation action plans in Africa and Asia, and of their role in building capacity in range States;

NOTING that Ministers, heads of delegations, and all GRASP partners adopted the Kinshasa Declaration on Great Apes on 9 September 2005, under which, inter alia, they committed to enhance efforts to ensure the long-term future of all great ape species, and emphasized the need to stimulate and enhance cooperation among range States and their neighbours to ensure the effective enforcement of legislation protecting great apes and the coordination of efforts to halt activities that have a detrimental effect upon populations of great apes;


URGES all Parties to:

a) adopt and implement comprehensive legislation to protect great apes, which includes:
  i) a prohibition of all international trade for primarily commercial purposes, including sale, display, purchase, offer to purchase and acquisition for commercial purposes of wild-caught specimens of great apes; and
  ii) deterrent penalties aimed at eliminating illegal trade in great apes and parts and derivatives thereof;

strengthen enforcement controls, including anti-poaching measures in great ape habitats and anti-smuggling measures at international borders;

c) limit the international use of great apes to nationally approved zoological institutions, educational centres, rescue centres and captive-breeding centres in accordance with CITES; and
d) promote the protection of great ape habitats, including cross-border cooperation between neighbouring range States for the management of contiguous habitat, and to take appropriate action to restore such habitats where they have become fragmented or diminished in quality;

DIRECTS the Secretariat to:

a) work closely with Parties, and as a member of GRASP , to develop and implement measures, including legislative and enforcement measures and regional and sub-regional initiatives, to halt or reduce and ultimately eliminate illegal trade in great apes;
b) work closely with ICCWC partners to support the implementation of this Resolution;

assist range States in the implementation of  national and regional conservation plans, where these include measures aimed at eliminating illegal trade; and


report to the Standing Committee on the implementation of this Resolution at each of its regular meetings;

DIRECTS the Standing Committee to:


review the implementation of this Resolution at each of its regular meetings on the basis of the Secretariat’s reports;


consider other measures such as technical missions, organized in cooperation with GRASP and other appropriate partnerships, followed by political missions if necessary; and


report at each meeting of the Conference of the Parties on the implementation of this Resolution, with any recommendations for further action;

URGES the Secretariat, the Standing Committee and the Animals Committee to work closely with GRASP, and to explore and implement other measures through which the Convention can contribute to the conservation of great apes and to the promotion of public awareness of the threat posed to great ape populations by illegal trade;

URGES all range States, other Parties and relevant organizations to join the GRASP partnership;

CALLS UPON all Parties to other relevant multilateral agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, to cooperate with GRASP and other appropriate partnerships in developing a common strategy to conserve great ape populations;

CALLS UPON all governments, intergovernmental organizations, international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations, as a matter of urgency, to assist the range States in any way possible in supporting the conservation of great apes including:

a) the provision of funding;
b) assistance with enforcement, training, capacity building and education;
c) population monitoring, and the gathering and exchange of scientific, technical and legal information and expertise;
d) habitat management and restoration;
e) mitigation of conflict between humans and apes; and
f) the development of projects which deliver tangible benefits to local communities such as alternative sources of protein;

and to stop illegal trade in specimens of these species in order to ensure the long-term survival of all populations in the wild, particularly by working through GRASP and other appropriate partnerships and through measures taken to implement this Resolution; and

CALLS UPON the Secretariat to collaborate with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in relation to the conservation of great apes, in particular developing measures relating to in situ conservation and to make recommendations relevant to CITES to the Standing Committee for consideration.

* Amended at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

Document status
Conf. 13.4 (Rev. CoP18)
Thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties
Document type