Tuesday, September 03, 2002

NO MORE FREE-LIVING APES IN THREE DECADES?

Near Total Ape-Habitat Loss Foreseen By 2030
National Geographic News
September 3, 2002

Less than ten per cent of the remaining habitat of the great apes of Africa will be left relatively undisturbed by 2030 if road building, mining camps, and other infrastructure developments continue at current levels, a new report suggests....

The findings—announced today at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg—have come from a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is coordinating the Great Apes Survival Project partnership (GRASP), and scientists from Norway and the United States....

It is not too late to stop uncontrolled exploitation of these forests, Toepfer said. "By doing so, we may save not only the great apes, but thousands of other species....

[Sidebar] Chimpanzee
The study estimates that around 26 percent, or some 390,840 square kilometers (150,000 square miles) of remaining chimpanzee habitat, can be classified as relatively undisturbed. If infrastructure growth continues at current levels, the area left by 2030 is estimated to be 118,618 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) or just 8 percent. It amounts to a 2.3 per cent, or 9,070 square kilometers (3,500 square miles), annual loss of low-impacted chimpanzee habitat from countries including Guinea, Cote D'Ivoire, and Gabon.

U.N. Sounds Alarm for Great Apes at Earth Summit
By Ed Stoddard

...A U.N. report launched at the Earth Summit showed that logging, mining, human settlement and the trade in ape meat were wiping out gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos in Africa and the orangutans of Asia.

U.N officials called for urgent action to save the great apes, saying their fate was crucial to the success of the Earth Summit's plans to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010....

Researchers say the great apes are highly intelligent with sophisticated social structures. Chimpanzees share 98.4 percent of human DNA, more than any other mammal.

"They are like us in more than their biological composition," primate researcher Jane Goodall told a news conference to launch the report.

The shrinking habitat has been accompanied by a sharp decline in great ape populations.

Some estimates put the current chimpanzee population at 200,000, against perhaps two million a century ago....