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Humane Society Applauds Senator Jeffords'
The Great Ape Conservation Act of 1999


Bill Would Provide Funding for Great Ape Conservation Programs

WASHINGTON, DC, May 10th 1999 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) calls upon members of the United States Senate to support The Great Ape Conservation Act of 1999 that will be introduced today by United States Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT). The bill will provide critical funding for conservation programs in countries inhabited by the great apes chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.

"Since primates are the most highly endangered mammal group, it is vital that we take measures to ensure that current populations are not further diminished as a result of poaching and habitat destruction," said Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president at The HSUS. "We cannot afford to lose any more of our closest living relatives."

All four of the great apes are listed as endangered species on the Endangered Species Act and under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Although habitat destruction is the major threat to great ape populations, in some areas, unregulated hunting poses an even greater threat.

Hunting for commercial trade in bushmeat, the meat from wild animals, is decimating populations of endangered and threatened wildlife. While national laws prohibit the hunting of great apes in most cases, forestry and wildlife officials often lack the basic resources required for enforcement. Funding obtained through the Great Ape Conservation Act could bolster projects aimed at strengthening law enforcement and provide necessary resources and training for park officials.

A recent first-hand account from Cameroon told of five gorillas, including two infants out of a group of nine, being shot and killed while leaving their night nests. When adult apes are shot, their orphaned infants are left behind to fend for themselves or snatched by poachers to become pets and live their lives at the end of a chain in a yard. Some may even end up in a cooking pot or are fed to hunting dogs. Sanctuaries have been established to accommodate surviving orphaned apes, but most of them lack resources to provide proper care for so many young animals. "It is our hope that sanctuary operations can be strengthened by funding from the Great Ape Conservation Act," concluded Pacelle.

Because great apes are considered to be flagship species their demise indicates the loss of other, lesser-known wildlife conservation programs to protect great apes will also benefit other endangered and threatened species.

The HSUS is the nation's largest animal protection organization with more than seven million members and constituents. For additional information on the bushmeat trade, visit us on the Internet at www.hsus.org


CALL YOUR SENATOR NOW TO CO-SPONSOR THE GREAT APE CONSERVATION ACT!
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