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Stop The Slaughter


Dr. Anthony Rose, President of the Biosynergy Institute and Director of Conservation for the Gorilla Foundation, spent a month in Cameroon assessing two projects and supporting the production of a documentary film. Here are reports of his activities during this trip. The community forest Gorilla Protection and Research Project in a section of the buffer around the Dja Reserve has been ongoing for nearly two years. It involves local people in the protection and habituation of gorillas in the forests surrounding their villages, and may be the only location in Cameroon where hunting has been eliminated and these great apes are safe. With an ex-gorilla hunter as team leader, the conversion of "poachers to protectors" gains new ground. As everywhere, this model project relies on the will and capacity of the people to continue their work and commit to live in harmony with nature. Supporting their efforts with funds and professional involvement is crucial to their success.

The Great Ape Conservation Education Program began in Yaounde early this year and has involved over 200 school children, as well as teachers, administrators, and parents in an experimental program aimed at affecting and monitoring change in humane values, especially as related to gorillas and other non-human primates. Preliminary results are encouraging -- participants report shifts in their views of the apes and assert the wish to preserve them. It appears that reading about Koko, the signing gorilla, does affect empathy for apes in Cameroon, as it has in North America. Funds and talent are needed to expand this program to more schools and villages across the region, both in secular and in religious education settings.

These two efforts test the capacity to remove great apes from bushmeat commerce. They work on two sides of the equation -- eliminating supply through community protection and reducing demand through values education. They are small but crucial demonstrations of the Cameroon people's effort to preserve their natural heritage.

Both these great ape conservation efforts will be featured in a Discovery Canada documentary that is being filmed this month on site in Africa. We hope they will prove to be innovative models for working through the people of the region to obtain sustained commitment to the conservation of nature. The one-hour show is scheduled to air in September 2001.

If you wish to support these vital new projects you are invited to make a donation to the WILDLIFE PROTECTORS FUND. Community aid professionals and corporate and non-profit leaders wishing to partner in the expansion of these programs are invited to contact Kevin Connelly, Director of Development for the Gorilla Foundation at (650) 216-6450 or by email to kevin@koko.org.

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