“What we want to see is action”
Founder/Director of the Last Great Ape Organisation, Cameroon
Our point of focus is mainly enforcement, enforcing the laws. Basically for us, the lack of application of the law – often be- cause of corruption in governments – is the main problem that is causing the extinction of gorillas and other species. Therefore for us, what we would like to see is a big push on enforcement. It’s looking at the hard issues, not the soft issues, like education, and like many other long term solutions, what we want to see is ac- tion. The traders, who are trading gorillas, big, high officials, are through corruption leading gorillas to extinction – and that’s not an easy issue. That is an issue that needs a lot of political power, political push, but this is the situation as we see it.
What we have here is a crisis. The situation for gorillas didn’t get better. We have tried a lot of different methods over the years. I think that trying to sensitise communities, education, trying to do many conferences with government, training, didn’t get us very far. We have many striking examples of this huge gap between the conferences hall and field realities. I think that we need to wake up if we are to save the Great Apes.
Indeed the situation is deteriorating, in Cameroon at least. We have lost our rhino, we are probably going to lose our lions in a year or two and Great Apes will come next. This is the situ- ation for Cameroon and I think that in other countries it may be even worse for Great Apes.
If we are to save the Great Apes, we need to do something totally different. I would say, cut the conferences off, cut the speeches, cut all the huge, long political processes, and let’s get down to work – action. Let’s get down and see what hap- pens next month. Do we have those big-time dealers? Not small poachers in the villages, because our problem is not in the villages, our problem is with government officials, our problem is with military officials, our problem is with huge, big, wealthy businessmen who are trading in apes. We want those people behind bars and that’s where we will start get- ting a message that things need to change. Conference halls don’t get us very far.