Monday, March 22, 2010
BCI Urges Congress to Pass the Great Ape Conservation Reauthorization Act
On January 27, 2010, BCI president and co-founder, Sally Jewell Coxe, testified before the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife in support of the Great Ape Conservation Reauthorization Amendments Act of 2010 (HR 4416). See a video of the hearing here!
Recognizing the many threats that great apes face, including habitat loss, illegal poaching, and consumption in the bushmeat trade, Congress passed the Great Ape Conservation Act (GACA) to allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to provide financial assistance for projects that support conservation and research of great apes. Since then, the FWS Great Ape Conservation Fund (GACF) has funded more than 250 projects in more than 30 countries across Africa and Asia
Since its historical passage in 2000, GACA has been instrumental to the survival of the bonobo and BCI’s success. BCI’s first grant from GACF was awarded in 2002, just as the Congo War was beginning to wind down in the bonobo habitat. The grant funded the first surveys and “information exchange” with local people at Kokolopori and Lac Tumba, and provided the foundation for ongoing efforts and long-term partnerships.
Thanks to direct support from GACF, BCI and its Congolese partners have discovered or confirmed the existence of bonobos in eleven strategic regions. This led to local agreements to protect bonobos in all areas surveyed and the establishment of two legally protected nature reserves: the Sankuru Nature Reserve and the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. Together, these reserves span 13,650 square miles—an area greater than the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined!
While the major threats to bonobos remain in force and there are still tremendous challenges to overcome, substantial progress has been made over the past decade to mitigate these threats in key areas of the bonobo habitat. Continued and increased support from the U.S. government through the Great Ape Conservation Fund is critically important.
Urge your Congress-member to vote in favor of the Great Ape Conservation Reauthorization Amendments Act of 2010 (HR 4416). Visit www.congress.org and click "Get Involved" to learn how to contact your congressman.
Please act now-the great apes need our support!