The Primates That Started Dr. Jane on Her Journey – The Chimpanzees
We stand on the threshold of a future without chimpanzees in the wild. Chimpanzees numbered perhaps 1 million at the turn of the 20th century, today it’s estimated there are only about ~25% of that number (172,000 – 300,000) remaining in the wild.
The IUCN/World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Species lists each of the African great apes species – chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos – as endangered. African apes are largely confined to the relatively intact forests of Equatorial Africa as their last remaining stronghold.
The threats to great apes in the natural world are many:
- Habitat loss as a result of agriculture, commercial logging, and mining
- Poachers supplying commercial bushmeat and the illegal exotic pet trades
- Infectious diseases, such as Ebola Fever
- Armed conflicts that lead to environmental destruction and species decline as soldiers move through the forest or thousands of people are forced to relocate
And there are exacerbating factors – lack of awareness and information about great apes and the laws in place to protect them, as well as weak enforcement where laws do exist. All of these problems have deep roots, including human population growth, the staggering scale of poverty and disease, lack of economic opportunity, political indifference and corruption, conflict, and scant community involvement in managing natural resources.
To begin to make a difference in the face of such fundamental challenges requires a holistic, multi-pronged response. Learn more about chimpanzees and how you can help save them at the JGI website.