Special Reporting Project: Apes

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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.

Mongabay is launching a special reporting project on apes aimed at raising public attention about the issues facing great apes and gibbons. Proposals for print, video, data and multimedia stories are welcome.

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: trailblazing conservationists, 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.

Articles published under previous versions of the series can be viewed here.

In addition to print stories, we are seeking fully produced short documentaries (3+ minutes) as well as video clips Mongabay can edit in-house for use on social media. Videos should include interviews with experts and/or local people involved in or affected by conservation efforts, as well as contextual footage such as images of wildlife, scenery, community life and conservationists at work.

Completed stories will be published in English on Mongabay.com under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing and reposting. They could also potentially be translated into other languages and published by Mongabay.

Journalists are expected to consult with various stakeholders, including social and environmental NGOs, scientists, officials, and local communities. Authors of print stories will also be expected to provide 5-10 publishable photos (either original, provided by those interviewed, or found free of copyright restrictions online) to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits.

Mongabay will negotiate fees and contracts for video and print submissions on a per-story basis, depending on the journalist’s experience and the complexity of the reporting. Some funds are available to defray local/regional travel costs.

Please submit your pitch here along with your journalism resume and three clips. Pitches should be roughly 500 words in length. They should clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about and how it is significant to the future of apes (note that stories about monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs or other primates will not be considered). Please also explain your approach to covering the topic and describe a few potential sources. For stories involving travel, please include a rough travel plan including approximate travel expenses.

Proposals for video stories should also include a shot list, a list of expected interviews, and links to samples of previous video work.

Print and video stories will be commissioned throughout 2020.

All applications must be submitted in English, and all final reporting will be published first in English.