Two Decades of Discovering Apes

Save the Apes and You Save the Forests

That’s the headline that came blazing across my in-box a few mornings ago. “Save the Apes and You Save the Forests” wow, you would think in the second decade of the 21st Century this would be a no-brainer?

clear cut Bornean rainforest

Clear cut Bornean (Sabah) rainforest making way for palm oil plantation

As I ply through final logistics for the upcoming Borneo-Sumatra trip I often have the online radio streaming in the background. Occasionally a word, a soundbite filters through and I focus my attention on the words for a few minutes. I find myself inevitably scratching my head in disbelief at the rhetoric pouring from the lips of people in positions of power. People we generally count on for enlightened thinking, ya know, the folks that asked for our vote because they were confident they could govern well and responsibly, and folks that make and sell us stuff we need, the ones that run companies asking for our consumer support because they were confident they could produce well and responsibly.

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are both bad news for climate change fight

Ian Redmond is quoted in a recent Jakarta Globe article, “The hope is that there will be a realization that forests are not just an ornamental part of our planet, but that they are integral to the function of our biosphere and future survival,”  Redmond is a tropical field biologist and conservationist, renowned for his work with great apes. He is now Chief Consultant for GRASP – UNEP/ UNESCO Great Apes Survival Partnership he helped launch in 2001. I respect Redmond for pointing that out, but that seems the problem, we are repeatedly pointing that out. Imagine the atmospheric carbon we could reduce if scientists and conservationists such as Ian Redmond didn’t have to continue trying to fill the airspace between climate change denials by politicians and corporate execs?

One of our central goals with Great Ape Diaries is to connect the global great ape dots. We plan to do so in as many and unique ways as we can – social media, huge outdoor public print displays, webcasts, youtube channels, radio, public speaking, you name it. So people, folks of every persuasion, begin to think about our Hominid role on this planet.

We have lofty goals for this project. Great Ape Diaries will be an unprecedented perspective on ape life even if only because it avoids a stereotypic natural history look at apes while bringing viewers closer to seeing them in a grander and comprehensive global scheme.  And while the project will necessarily enjoy and utilize the experiences of famous researchers and ape conservationists to provide context, the one critical aspect that sets Great Ape Diaries apart from all previous work will be the focus on telling the story through the eyes, perspectives, and passion of the people who live and work with apes, in situ, mostly out of sight of the rest of the world.  These folks are stakeholders, people critical to the long-term survival of great apes in the wild, will include trackers, anti-poaching patrols, ape orphanage staff, native researchers, farmers, poachers, rangers, veterinarians, and park guides.

We hope by connecting the Hominid groups – them and us – to our collective needs and issues, people will understand “Save the Apes and You Save the Forests” AND you save us and everything else.

You can read the full Save the Apes and You Save the Forests story from the Jakarta Globe here.

Also worth reading Great ape conservation must be integral to REDD+, says leading primate biologist

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