22 April 2022
A hundred years ago, millions of gorillas and other apes lived in Africa’s forests, now just a few thousand remain. For those that are left the threats are grave; their habitat is logged and mined for its natural resource, their vital forest eco-system is overused, degraded and suffering from the effects of climate change. And, perhaps most shockingly, these incredible animals are shot and snared for bushmeat or poached for the illegal wildlife trade.
Today, Born Free is announcing a major new conservation initiative, our first in Cameroon, to help put a halt to these threats and bring our closest cousins back from the brink. The ground-breaking project is called ‘Guardians of Dja’ and will work with local communities in the vast Dja Biosphere Reserve to recruit and train Great Ape Guardians. These specially trained individuals will work to protect the remaining 1,258 western lowland gorillas living in this part of the rainforest in the Congo basin, as well as chimpanzees, forest elephants, pangolins and the many more species found there.
The Dja Biosphere Reserve is also home to around 50 thousand people, and communities are at the very heart of this remarkable new conservation project. Born Free will work alongside targeted communities to help reduce reliance on natural resources and coexist with the wildlife in the forest. Through supporting sustainable agricultural practices, such as cocoa agroforestry and pepper cultivation, managing anti-poaching activities, reforesting abandoned plantations and running conservation education and outreach programmes, we will secure a safe habitat for the Great Apes as well as sustainable future for the people living alongside them.
To achieve this goal and fund the landmark ‘Guardians of Dja’ programme Born Free has a new and vital appeal ‘Apes on the Edge’. Every pound generously donated will ensure this crucial work to save our closest cousins continues. Together we can reduce the loss of this astonishing eco-system, we can increase the income and prospects of the people who live there, we can combat hunting and the barbaric bushmeat trade, and we can see chimpanzees and gorillas thrive again. But only if we act now.
Apes need a Guardian – will YOU help save them?
(c) Rowan Griffiths, The Mirror