When Jane Goodall first observed chimpanzees in the 1960’s, she reported her ground-breaking discovery of ape tool use. Until then, tool use was reserved as a fundamentally human-only behaviour. To this, Dr Louis Leakey famously said “We must now redefine man, redefine tool, or accept chimpanzees as human!”
However, despite our best efforts, chimpanzees have become increasingly endangered. Now, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) estimates that in only 14 years (by 2030) Africa can lose 50% of its chimpanzees! The decline is a product of habitat destruction, (illegal) logging, disease transmission, wildlife trade and poaching for bush meat/medicine. If the decline continues, total extinction of apes is predicted.
How can we help protect endangered primates?
Firstly, never support primates being kept as pets. More often than not, they have been taken from their wild mothers as babies, only to be sold in the illegal pet trade. Although chimpanzee babies are “cute”, they belong in the wild. Think that teenage humans are difficult to deal with but teenage chimpanzees are impossible to control! #PrimatesAreNotPets
Do share primate conservation news with your friends. Awareness is everything! Also, support your favourite wildlife conservation charities. The funds help them send scientists to the field, collect more information about the state of wildlife populations and habitats and then use this information to help protect them (often by pushing governments and raising public awareness). Did you know that the mere presence of scientists and their camps in forests help protect the resident species? Poachers are less likely to succeed around camps as regular patrols and surveys disturb their illegal activities. Also, animals have a better chance to recover their numbers there.
Check out these charities and organisations working to protect African apes:
- Gorilla Organisation
- African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)
- Ape Alliance
- Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP)