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