IUCN Red List has little good news for great apes

Wild chimpanzee populations have experienced a significant reduction in the last 20 to 30 years, and face considerable threat ahead, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, released last week with little good news.

The chimpanzee continues to be listed as "endangered," which has been its classification since 1996. Chief threats include poaching, disease and habitat destruction through logging, mining and other resource exploitation. There was even worse news about other great apes, particularly the Western Gorilla, which is now listed as "critically endangered," suffering declines due to the commercial bushmeat trade and Ebola virus. Its population has declined by more than 60 percent in the last 20 to 25 years, according to the List. Sumatran Orangutans are also critically endangered.

One in four mammals, one in eight birds, one third of all amphibians and 70 percent of the world's assessed plants on the 2007 list are in jeopardy.

"The news is not good, but we know based on experience that species can be brought back even from the very brink. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that our children and their children will enjoy a future with great apes not only surviving but thriving in the wild," said Dr. Jane Goodall. "It's critical to work in true partnership with local communities in Africa. This is the approach of the Jane Goodall Institute as we restore and protect great ape habitat while helping to forge sustainable futures for communities."

JGI works to preserve great apes, with an emphasis on chimpanzees, through a variety of means including community-centered conservation, rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned chimpanzees, and the ongoing research at Gombe which helps inform conservation efforts as well as promote public care and concern for chimpanzees. The Institute's community-centered conservation efforts include support of sustainable livelihoods in agriculture and forestry, as well as projects in microfinance, education and health care.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies species according to their extinction risk. It is a searchable online database containing the global status and supporting information on more than 41,000 species. Its primary goal is to identify and document the species most in need of conservation attention and provide an index of the state of biodiversity.

 

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