Chimpanzees are classified as ENDANGERED
- In a rough estimate, there are approximately 170,000 to 300,000 chimpanzees left in Africa (Butynski, 2003).
- Despite the presence of protected areas for chimpanzees to live, their numbers have dwindled and are expected to continue dropping (Oates, et al., 2008)
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List (Oates, et al., 2008)
Threats to chimpanzees
- Habitat loss via deforestation and logging
- With the increase of the human population, there is an increase in competition for land.
- Commercial logging is related to the population increase. With more people there is more demand, but by supporting sustainable forest management practices and buying sustainable wood products, we can help a little bit at a time.
- Disease (Walsh, et al., 2003)
- Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from humans to animals and vice versa.
- In addition to the Ebola crisis of the past decade, chimpanzees are threatened by other infectious diseases. A few examples are: pneumonia, tuberculosis, paralytic poliomyelitis, chicken pox, influenza, and the common cold (Butynski, 2001).
- Bush meat trade/hunting
- Snares, while not intended to catch chimpanzees, are difficult to see in the forest. If a chimpanzee is caught on one, he/she will likely lose a hand (if not their life) due to infection.
- In the Budongo Forest, Snare Patrol teams are hired to patrol the forest in search of snares so they can be cut down before chimpanzees accidentally find them.
- By working closely with local residents, established research stations have been helpful in fostering an understanding of chimpanzees and have encouraged local residents to protect them and the forest that they share.
- Human/Chimpanzee coexistence
- Crop raiding (Hockings, 2009)
- A foraging strategy where chimpanzees take food (the crops) from nearby farms.
- Farmers develop new techniques to discourage chimps from entering their farmland. One example is to plant foods that are not appealing to the chimps, like hot chili peppers, around their crops. If the chimps don’t like what they taste, they might look elsewhere for their food.
- Pet trade
- It’s hard to believe that this still occurs, but chimpanzees are still a focus in the pet trade, where a small group of chimpanzees is killed just to acquire a baby chimpanzee. Like us, they do not easily give up one of their own.
For additional information on conservation, please visit:
- Butynski, T.M. (2001). Africa’s great apes. In: Beck BB, Stoinski TS, Hutchins M, Maple TL, Norton B, Rowan A, Stevens EF, Arluke A, editors. Great apes & humans: the ethics of coexistence. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 3-56.
- Butynski, T.M. (2003). The robust chimpanzee Pan troglodytes: taxonomy, distribution, abundance and conservation status. In Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan: West African Chimpanzees. R. Kormos, C. Boesch, M.I. Bakarr & T.M. Butynski, eds., IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 5-12.
- Hockings, K.J. (2009). Human-chimpanzee competition, coexistence and conflict in Africa. Interaction Studies 10(2): 183-205.
- Oates, J.F., Tutin, C.E.G., Humle, T., Wilson, M.L., Baillie, J.E.M., Balmforth, Z., Blom, A., Boesch, C., Cox, D., Davenport, T., Dunn, A., Dupain, J., Duvall, C., Ellis, C.M., Farmer, K.H., Gatti, S., Greengrass, E., Hart, J., Herbinger, I., Hicks, C., Hunt, K.D., Kamenya, S., Maisels, F., Mitani, J.C., Moore, J., Morgan, B.J., Morgan, D.B., Nakamura, M., Nixon, S., Plumptre, A.J., Reynolds, V., Stokes, E.J. & Walsh, P.D. (2008). Pan troglodytes. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. Accessed 10 January 2010.
- Walsh, P.D., Abernethy, K.A., Bermejo, M., Beyers, R., De Wachter, P., Akou, M.E., Huijbregts, B., Mambounga, D.I., Toham, A.K., Kilbourn, A.M. (2003). Catastrophic ape decline in western equatorial Africa. Nature 442(6932): 611-14.