WAPCA's Country Coordinator Andrea Dempsey has been placed on the African Primatology Society (APS) steering committee and already meetings have taken place to develop the new society.
The APS was formed in April 2016 at the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group African Red List Assessment Workshop in Rome, Italy. It hopes to represent a continent wide platform to coordinate African primatology research and conservation efforts.
Over 70% of the 282 nonhuman primate taxa (including subspecies) on the African continent are threatened in the wild and 15 taxa are critically endangered. This conservation status assessment has reiterated the dire situation facing African primates stemming from hunting pressures, habitat loss and fragmentation. Clearly the current efforts have not been sufficient to significantly influence the declining trends of primate populations and more commitment and unity is required among governments, international organisations, donor agencies, research institutions and local communities. The lack of coordination between conservationists and primatologists has also been criticised as a contributor to the lacking effectiveness of primate conservation to date.
The idea to establish a platform for information sharing, coordination of research, conservation efforts and networking among African primatologists to promote research and improve conservation efforts has been discussed prior to 2013. The African Primatologists Working Group (APWG) was formed as a result of these discussions in 2013, which was furthermore developed in 2016 to form the APS.
The steering committee of the APS is now working towards organising an inaugural congress of the APS in 2017 where the structure and operational framework of the society will be clarified. A constitution will be adopted and officers elected to coordinate the affairs of the society. In the near future we can expect the circulation of a membership form and the creation of an APS website, where a database of members and relevant contact details will be circulated.
We look forward to APS news and hope that this platform will help to safeguard the future of African primates!