It’s not too late to se­cure a fu­ture for our great apes

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News - SB

T he forests of West Africa host many more chim­panzees and go­ril­las than was pre­vi­ously thought, ac­cord­ing to the most ex­ten­sive sur­vey car­ried out to date.

Led by the World Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety (WCS), the re­search in­volved 12 aca­demic and con­ser­va­tion bod­ies around the world and took 11 years to com­plete. The re­gion sup­ports 361,900 west­ern low­land go­ril­las (a third higher than pre­vi­ous fig­ures) and 128,700 chim­panzees (a tenth higher).

“It’s great news that the forests of West­ern Equa­to­rial Africa still con­tain hun­dreds of thou­sands of go­ril­las and chim­panzees, but we’re also con­cerned that so many of these pri­mates are out­side of pro­tected ar­eas and vul­ner­a­ble to poach­ers, dis­ease, and habi­tat degra­da­tion and loss,” says Sa­man­tha Strind­berg of WCS. In­deed, 80 per cent of the apes oc­cupy un­pro­tected forests.

“Re­spon­si­ble in­dus­trial prac­tices, con­ser­va­tion poli­cies, and a net­work of well­man­aged parks and cor­ri­dors would pro­vide a win­ning for­mula for con­serv­ing great apes in Cen­tral Africa,” says the Univer­sity of Stir­ling’s Liz Wil­liamson.

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