This chapter explores the ways in which conservationists can understand and respond to the various cultural beliefs and practices that can lead to the killing and capture of apes. It considers the ape trade within local and community contexts and explores challenges to assessing the impact of the trade, especially given the dearth of research on apes’ use in traditional medicine and variations in local attitudes to apes and to nature.
The chapter presents four case studies showing that conservation planning is more likely to be effective when it factors in the cultural practices of communities that interact with apes and their habitats. Two studies focus on communities in Africa. One examines the demand for ape parts in Cameroon. The other looks at shifts in cultural practices in Uganda that increasingly threaten formerly protected apes. The other two case studies focus on Indonesian Borneo, presenting the cultural drivers of hunting in Kalimantan and how anthropological methods can contribute to understanding and addressing the killing of orangutans at the village level.