• Introduction

    Great apes not only feature among the highest global conservation priorities, but probably also among the best-researched orders of mammals, and all species have attracted their own species conservation programs or featured prominently as flagship species in habitat conservation efforts. They are also certainly amongst those major taxonomic groups that have received the highest amounts of conservation funding over the last half century. So if this is the case why do their populations continue to decline and habitats continue to be degraded and lost? Conserving biodiversity is complex and costly. The complexity is demonstrated by the failure to make a significant impact in the 2010 biodiversity target of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) (Fisher, 2009; Greenwood, 2010). Despite recent estimates that the earths ecological systems are worth more than $33 trillion annually (Constanza et al., 1997), the comparatively low cost of maintaining biological diversity that underpins these services continues to be unmet by governments and donors (James et al., 1999). Conservation funding remains far below the $300 billion thought to be necessary to achieve effective global conservation (James et al., 1999, 2001). Annual expenditure on wildlife conservation in Africa averaged $200 million in 2004-2006 with the sector needing to scale up its activities by one order of magnitude to achieve its stated goals (Scholfield & Brockington, 2008). Other estimates state that annual conservation spending needs to increase to $2878 million in Africa and $3836 million for Asia (James et al., 2001). A recent analysis found that $69.5 million (acknowledged as a significant under-estimate) is spent annually on ape focused and impacted conservation programs, but that it needs to increase by 176% to achieve organizational goals (Farmer, 2009). Whilst there is some argument to increase the effectiveness of the fund and supported action rather than increasing the fund itself (Scholfield & Brockington, 2008) it is clear that more funding is needed to ensure the long-term survival of great apes and their habitats.

  • How important is this threat compared to others?

  • Why is it a threat to great apes?

  • Is lack of funding dangerous for all species in the same way?

Compiled and edited 2011 by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Hjalmar Kuehl, Josephine Head and Neba Funwi-Gabga

  • References