At a meeting of the US Presidential Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking at the US Department of the Interior, African Wildlife Foundation’s (AWF’s) Director of the African Apes Initiative, Jef Dupain, testified before council members and the general public on the growing threat of great ape trafficking and the impact this illicit industry poses to wild populations of bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas in Africa.
The testimony came as the President’s Advisory Council met to draw attention to species – other than elephants and rhinos – impacted by the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade.
“Ape trafficking is growing as demand abroad for exotic pets and zoo and entertainment animals grows,” said Mr. Dupain. “The nightmare for many of these victims does not end with their capture in the wild but instead – if they don’t die in transit – continues for the rest of their life, sometimes 40 years.”
AWF made several recommendations to the Advisory Council about the role the US government could and should play to combat the illegal trade in great apes, including: “Urge CITES at the next Standing Committee meeting to establish a Great Ape Working Group, which will permit more detailed discussion around CITES regulatory processes and how to make it more effective at controlling fraudulent use of CITES permits.”
“It is time the trade in great apes is exposed and closed,” Dupain said.
The PEGAS Project Manager assisted in the preparation of the AWF testimony.