Special Reporting Project – Apes


Apes around the world are balanced on the knife-edge of extinction. Among the great apes, Cross River gorillas, western and eastern lowland gorillas, and all orangutans are all now listed by the IUCN as critically endangered; mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos are endangered. Gibbons, or lesser apes, face an equally dire situation, with the majority of known species listed as either endangered or critically endangered.

These species are in a fight for their lives that will play out over this century. They face bad odds and massive threats including rapid wholesale deforestation due to industrial agriculture — especially oil palm production — logging, mining, energy production, and the pressures of rapid human population growth in Asia and Africa. In addition, a rapidly expanding global wildlife trade is a major threat to apes, which are killed for their meat or body parts, or captured live for the exotic pet trade.

Articles published under this series can be viewed here.

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Series objectives:

This series is focused on raising public attention to the threats facing great apes and gibbons in Africa and Asia as well as the efforts to conserve these species.

Suggested story topics and guidelines:

We welcome proposals from experienced journalists for conventional news stories, in-depth features, investigative reports, profiles, and case studies. We will also consider proposals for fully edited and produced videos of up to 10 minutes in length. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Analyses of threats to apes, including deforestation, industrial agriculture, energy and infrastructure development, extractive industries, human-wildlife conflict, disease, the bushmeat trade, the trade in ape parts, and the exotic pet trade.
  • Conservation solutions: success stories and failures, community-based solutions, law-enforcement innovations and other high- and low-tech approaches to tackling threats facing gibbons and great apes.
  • New research and discoveries, particularly findings that could have implications for conservation strategies.
  • Profiles of scientists, activists and policymakers making significant or novel contributions to ape conservation.

Opinion pieces, or commentaries, will not be considered for this project and are not paid opportunities. Please share commentary pitches using this form and refer to submission guidelines here.

Each story will be between 800 and 2,000 words in length and will include quotes from at least three original interviews. Authors will be expected to provide five to 10 publishable photos free for Mongabay’s use to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits.

Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Completed stories will be paid on a per word or fixed fee basis, depending primarily on the journalist’s experience.  Mongabay.com publishes under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing, translation, and re-posting.  More information on Mongabay’s editorial standards and practice can be found here.

How to submit your story pitch

To send Mongabay a pitch, please be prepared to also share your resume/portfolio along with three samples of your work. The story pitch should be roughly 500 words in length and include a title for the project. Viable pitches will clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about in detail and your approach to covering it, and describe a few potential sources. Pitches for video-led stories should also include a shot list and a list of expected interviews.

Support for travel expenses may also be provided by Mongabay. Please include a preliminary travel plan and budget estimate (using this template) if support for travel expenses will be required to carry out reporting. Do not include payments for your work in this budget estimate. Please also describe COVID-19-related precautions you intend to take and any travel restrictions that may impact your plans.

Applications must be submitted in English or French. If you are proposing a story that is relevant to a location, please use one of the following regional forms so that the information is directed to the most appropriate editors.