New ape population, environments and surveys database

13 March 2007 | News story

The new Ape Populations, Environments and Surveys (A.P.E.S.) database, has just been launched, and can be accessed on the A.P.E.S. website at http://gis.eva.mpg.de. It is a joint initiative of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group.

One of the main aims of the A.P.E.S. database is to provide the information needed for long-term management and conservation strategies to save the great apes. It will provide an accurate global picture of the distribution and status of all great apes, and will undoubtedly become a valuable tool for all those working to conserve and protect the world’s remaining wild ape populations.

Great apes are more diverse – and more threatened – than many of us ever expected. At least 13 kinds of great ape are now recognized: four subspecies of gorilla, four chimpanzees and the singular bonobo, all found in central and western Africa, plus four kinds of orangutans known from tropical Asia. Along with all other primates, the great apes are included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and it shows the great apes in near-universal decline.

Included on the website are descriptions of the A.P.E.S. database concept, downloadable policy documents, an interactive map, a web interface to update the catalogue of ape surveys, and the immediate possibility to electronically archive survey data sets.

The long-term goal of the A.P.E.S. initiative is to collate all existing ape survey data into a comprehensive and interactive database to provide both historical and up-to-date information on the global status of great apes. Work is continuing towards the completion of the catalogue of existing ape surveys and researchers are invited to visit the A.P.E.S. website to verify that survey information is listed and cited correctly (see contact details below).

Bi-annual reports will be produced by a Data Review Working Group, that will also review third-party requests for data access.

The success of the A.P.E.S. database depends upon the participation and support of the ape conservation and research community. To date, cataloguing reports has focused on ape surveys in Africa, but will now extend to Asian apes. Feedback and input from all projects and biologists conducting field surveys which include great apes would be most welcome.

For further information and general enquiries, contact: apes@eva.mpg.de.

If you wish to receive periodic updates regarding the A.P.E.S. database, please send an email to apes@eva.mpg.de with the subject heading "APES News".