They will if nothing changes.
The bushmeat crisis – the hunting and eating of apes
– has had the greatest impact on the decline of chimps.
You find this not only in Africa but in parts of South America
and Asia as well. And, of course, the loss of the rainforest,
chimps’ natural habitat, due to logging, also creates
Well, you have many in Africa
who are surviving on a subsistence level. Of course, they
have done that for years. They go after the apes for the meat
– the protein. But now villagers aren’t hunting
simply to feed their families. There’s a profit motive.
A virtual cottage industry has developed with villagers hunting
apes so they can sell the meat to others. We believe that
each year, two million metric tons of bushmeat is traded.
Since there is little industry in West Africa, you can see
why people live off the forest. However, it’s not sustainable
and with guns, the kill rate is much higher. You are now threat-ening
the entire species.
||What happens to the social structure
of chimp groups when one is killed?
Chimps tend to congregate in families and
large groups. Hunters tend to focus on the females –
particularly mothers. When you shoot the mother, you get the
meat and you also get the babies that are then sold as pets.
Also, when you shoot the females, the males come rushing in
to protect them and they can be shot too. Some of the orphaned
babies, of course, die or are found and taken to a chimp sanctuary.
Each year there are more because
the problem is growing. I’m currently an adviser to
the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance – a group of 19 sanctuaries
– that conducts research and meets regularly. We believe
that for every baby chimp that is cared for in a sanctuary,
five to 10 are killed or die in the wild. It’s a mathematical
guesstimate, but to give you an idea of the scope of the problem,
in 2001, there were 400 chimps in sanctuaries; today there
are 700. If that number keeps growing at the same rate, you
can see it’s only a matter of time before chimps become