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Great apes and poverty

Gorilla family in Rwanda. Photo by Roger Day.

Gorilla family in Rwanda. Photo by Roger Day.

Great apes live in some of the poorest countries in Africa and Asia. Critically endangered great apes often receive the most funding and protection from conservation initiatives, yet strictly controlled and enforced conservation areas can have negative impacts on local communities. At the same time, the economic benefits from great ape tourism are often not shared at the local level creating resentment and hostility towards conservation efforts, which can also impact on livelihood and poverty reduction initiatives. 

The Poverty and Conservation Learning Group has a thematic focus on great apes which aims to:

  • Support the learning, networking and information exchange of organisations working within great ape range states.
  • Improve the integration of poverty and/or local livelihood concerns into conservation policy and programmes in great ape range states.
  • Strengthen the capacity of conservation organisations to engage with and influence private and public sector development actors.

Our national groups working in Cameroon and Uganda are a consortium of organisations interested in great ape conservation and its links to poverty alleviation. We are currently exploring opportunities to work with partners in other great ape range states, specifically in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Related Projects

Local economic development through gorilla tourism 
Gorilla-tracking tourist activities in Uganda's Bwindi national park generate critical revenue for conservation, but local benefits from tourism are limited and the illegal use of the park's resources continues. This project (2016 - 2019) will develop and test new community-based tourism products and services that improve local skills and job opportunities, and the long-term prospects for the park. Read more.

Can health investments benefit conservation? 
Uganda PCLG member, Conservation Through Public Health has received funding from the Darwin Initaitive (2016 - 2019) to understand the value of health interventions as part of an integrated approach to tackling poverty and improving conservation. Read more.

Addressing the interplay between agibusiness investments and great ape conservation
This three year (2014 - 2017) project explored the evidence base on the interplay between agribusiness investments and effective ape conservation, and on the opportunities and constraints reflected in national and international law. Read more.

Linking ape conservation with poverty alleviation
The Arcus foundation have provided funding that has supported the establishment of three national PCLG groups in Uganda, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo and strengthened their capacity to engage with development processes that affect great apes and their habitats.


Great ape conservation in Cameroon: mapping institutions and policies,  Dinsi SC and Abe Eyebe S (2016) PCLG Research Report

Raising awareness of the links between great ape conservation, poverty alleviation, and private sector instruments in Cameroon, Dinsi SC (2016) PCLG Project Report

Recommendations to improve the impacts of agro-industrial activities on great ape conservation and livelihoods in Cameroon, Dinsi SC (2016) PCLG Project Report

Linking great ape conservation and poverty alleviation in Rwanda, Werikhe S and Giuliani A (2016) PCLG Event Report

Mapping Great Ape conservation projects with a livelihood component in DRC: a preliminary study, Kasereka IP, Lumbuenamo R, and Mugangu T (2016) PCLG Research Report

Impacts of agro-industrial and logging activities on great ape conservation and livelihoods in Cameroon, Dinsi SC (2015) PCLG Workshop Report

Linking conservation and poverty alleviation: A discussion paper on good and best practice in the case of the great ape conservation, Redford K, Roe D and Sunderland T (2013) PCLG Discussion Paper, no. 11.

Linking conservation and poverty alleviation: The case of the great apes, Sandbrook C and Roe D (2010) PCLG Discussion Paper, no. 3.

Development and Gorillas? Assessing fifteen years of integrated conservation and development in south-western Uganda, Blomley T, Namara A, McNeilage A, Franks P, Rainer H, Donaldson A, Malpas R, Olupot W, Baker J, Sandbrook C, Bitariho R and M Infield (2010) Natural Resource Issues No. 23. IIED.

Blogs and other media

Are health investments paying off for endangered wildlife?, Booker F and Kalema Zikusoka G (2017) IIED Blog

TV documentary highights conservation and poverty links in Cameroon (2016) IIED News article

Random trials in Uganda to show if payments for ecosystems services really work, Hatanga P (2014) IIED Blog

Great apes: Their fate is ours, Giuliani A (2013) IIED Blog