UK to fund GRASP law enforcement initiative in Central Africa

Bangkok, Thailand — At 1pm this afternoon (Bangkok), United Kingdom Environment Minister Elliot Morley will announce a further £20,000 ($35,000) grant to the United Nations Environment Programme's Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) to fund targeted law enforcement training in Central Africa. The Species Survival Network applauds today's announcement.

The UK, already the biggest donor to the UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP), has pledged to fund a pilot project at one or more border-crossings where great ape smuggling is known to occur. GRASP has called for other donors to match this commitment so that the number of border-posts involved can be increased.

"We are delighted that this new support from the UK is directed towards action on the ground," said Ian Redmond, Chief Consultant to GRASP, and head of the Technical Support Team provided by the Born Free Foundation. "We have already begun discussions with the Cameroon delegation here to identify likely sites, and plan to move on this initiative rapidly."

The 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES has heard frequent mention of the need for better wildlife law enforcement, and a call for renewed efforts to end the illegal trade in great apes and their products, especially bushmeat. "We know that the trade in wild animal flesh, known as "bushmeat," can have disastrous impacts on wildlife. Great apes such as gorillas, bonobos, and chimpanzees are particularly susceptible. The UK deserves great praise for its new initiative, and all other CITES Parties should consider themselves challenged to match this generosity."