Abstract # 2923 Event # 78:

Scheduled for Friday, June 18, 2010 04:25 PM-04:40 PM: Session 16 (Medallion Ballroom B) Oral Presentation


D. W. Cress
Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, P.O. Box 86645, Portland, OR 97206, USA

Although primate rescue centers have existed in Africa since the mid-1970s, the lack of communication and coordination between the facilities was surprising, even as their numbers swelled in the 1990s. But when a workshop for chimpanzee sanctuary managers was convened in Uganda in 2000, something remarkable happened: despite layers of insecurity and distrust, the managers found common ground on some key issues, and slowly but surely formed themselves into a coalition. The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) was born of that first meeting, and subsequent meetings throughout Africa have forged a network that is unique to conservation, all based on a simple truth: the African sanctuaries are much more powerful collectively than any of them ever were alone. Now, often a problem in Congo finds an answer in Kenya; Zambia helps Gambia; South Africa supports Sierra Leone. Separated by thousands of miles, cultural differences, language barriers, and even civil wars, PASA’s 18 member sanctuaries in 12 countries still find a way to engage each other on important issues. The African sanctuaries collectively care for over 850 chimpanzees, 100 gorillas, 65 bonobos and an estimated 2,500 other endangered primates, but PASA’s collective strength has permitted them to stretch into new areas – law enforcement, conservation science, education, veterinary training, and reintroduction, among others – that outstrip the traditional boundaries of sanctuary work. PASA and its member sanctuaries currently operate successful reintroduction programs for chimpanzees (Congo and Guinea), gorillas (Congo and Gabon), bonobos (DR Congo) and guenons (Nigeria), with drills slated to be returned to the wild in Nigeria later this year. PASA and its member sanctuary in Sierra Leone have just completed the first wild chimpanzee census in that country, and PASA partners with research institutions on studies that range from tuberculosis testing to DNA analysis. PASA’s emphasis on law enforcement includes providing posters, ID cards, and rapid-response to the CITES Great Ape Enforcement Task Force, and PASA took the lead in cracking down on Egypt’s illegal trade in primates. PASA successfully lobbied Malaysia, South Africa and Cameroon to return illegally traded gorillas from Asia, and is helping build the first-ever gorilla sanctuary in East Africa. From the humble beginnings of pure animal welfare, PASA and its member sanctuaries have become key players in the fight to save Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces.