APS 2019 conference | Primate Conservation in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

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A recent assessment of the current status of African primates recognized many more critical species as threatened and/or endangered; this has further emphasized the need for stakeholders to increase their level of involvement and commitment, particularly, native Africans who should be at the forefront of conserving the continent’s biodiversity. Since 2012, efforts have been made to establish a group that will coordinate the efforts of African primatologists, enhance their experience/influence in their various project areas and strengthen the impact of their conservation actions. These efforts culminated in the formation of the African Primatological Society (APS) in April 2016 with the objective of creating a platform for networking, coordination of research information and improving conservation efforts through training and capacity building.  To accomplish these objectives, the APS held the inaugural meeting in Bingerville, Côte d’Ivoire in July 2017,  to lay a solid foundation for the group and position its members/executive officials to carry out its duties and undertake the activities needed to realize its mission.  The second African Primatological Society (APS) congress will be held in Uganda from 2nd to 6th September 2019. This conference is being organized by Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) and partner conservation NGOs and government agencies based in Uganda, with support from the APS executive committee, Conservation International and the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, Côte d’Ivoire.

At the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group African Primate Red List Assessment Workshop held in Rome, Italy from the 18th – 23rd of April 2016, experts assessed the conservation status of African primates wherein 100 out of 179 taxa were classified as threatened with 35 endangered and 15 critically endangered species. More than ever before, these assessments revealed the dire situation facing African primates and drew attention to the potential for imminent and catastrophic loss of the continent’s rich primate biodiversity if concrete steps are not taken urgently to reverse the current trend (Imong et al. 2016). Thus, it became evident that there should be greater commitment from all stakeholders, national governments, international organizations, donor agencies, research institutions, local communities, groups and individuals must reassess their levels of commitment and intervention strategies, and reposition themselves to be more effective in their efforts to save Africa’s primate diversity. In particular, Africans must be better positioned to lead efforts if long term, effective conservation of African primates is to be realized.

As a result, the African attendees at this workshop held a series of meetings to discuss progress towards the formation of an African primate group/society. The meetings in Rome, Italy built on that of the former African Primate Working Group (APWG) held in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2015. The APWG itself was formed after several discussions which have taken place since 2012 at the International Primatological Society (IPS) congresses in Cancun, Mexico and in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2014.

The decision to transition from a Working Group to a Society came at an opportune time with many more researchers and conservationists working on African primates increasingly more interested in being part of a home-grown network. A steering committee was immediately constituted in Rome to deliver on the mandate of first Congress inaugurating this new society, and undertaking associated activities to facilitate the affairs of the group. Two members of the APS received support by Conservation International to promote the APS during the IPS meeting in August 2016 and the announcement of the inaugural congress of the APS received enthusiastic support.

The African Primatological Society (APS) was formally established during an inaugural Congress in Bingerville, Côte d’Ivoire, July 24-27, 2017.  The congress brought together 150 primatologists from 22 countries in Africa and a few dozen from other countries across the globe. All regions of Africa (North, West, Central, East, Southern Africa and Madagascar) were represented. There were a series of consultative events including a general assembly of APS members during the course of the 4 days of meetings. Amongst these were 10 plenary lectures, 61 oral presentations, 40 poster presentations, 2 panel sessions, 1  red colobus action planning workshop, 1 field trip and 2 practical training sessions in scientific writing and field methodologies, respectively. The congress event benefitted from the avid support of varied stakeholders in the Academia, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil-Society Groups, National and Local governments, Funding Agencies, public and industry scientists, local, national and international media.

This proposal outlines the important activities necessary for the society to organize its second congress scheduled for September 2019 in Kampala or Entebbe, Uganda. The Congress will gather together approximately 200 African Primatologists, non-African researchers and conservationists working on African primates as well as other stakeholders. The second general assembly of APS members will also take place, as well as keynote addresses during plenaries from renown primatologists, poster sessions,  round table discussions and training sessions.

Overall goal

The overall goal of the congress is to hold the second African Primatological Society conference and strengthen the group’s position to serve as a platform for knowledge and experience sharing amongst researchers, conservationists, education practitioners, donors and decision makers across the African continent towards the effective conservation of African primates.

Specific objectives

  1. To improve knowledge of the advances, constraints, and future perspectives of Primatology in the different regions of Africa (Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa, and Madagascar);
  2. To share results of selected projects dealing with various aspects of African Primatology including but not limited to ecology, ethology, systematics, taxonomy, distribution, epidemiology, anthropology, human-primate interactions, conflicts, education, conservation, disease, One Health, tourism;
  3. Consolidate enabling factors for the efficient running of the society (action plan).

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Conference Videos

Primates of Uganda

Did you miss the video highlighting Uganda Primates during the 2nd African Primatological Society - APS​ conference? Listen to the views from Conservation Through Public Health Uganda Wildlife Authority ​National Forest Authority Uganda Tourism Board Makerere University​ and APS President Dr Inza Kone.#APSConference19 Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka

Posted by African Primatological Society - APS on Friday, September 20, 2019
Dr. Jane Goodall's speech during the 2nd African Primatological Society Conference

Dr. Jane Goodall joined the 2nd African Primatological Society conference through video link, and talked about her first years studying the Chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania. cc. the Jane Goodall Institute Jane Goodall Institute Uganda #APSConference19

Posted by African Primatological Society - APS on Friday, September 20, 2019