The chimpanzee is one of the most well-known animals on the planet. It is also known as the common chimpanzee or just chimp, and it is a species of the great ape with its roots traced to the savannah and forests of tropical Africa. However, this legendary animal is facing serious threats and is even said to be on the verge of extinction. This article will examine why this phenomenon is happening regarding the extermination of our biological relatives.
All chimpanzees are now classified as endangered by the United States government as far back as 2015. This ruling was put in place by the government to ensure maximum protection for the apes in captivity. This was after a proposal in 2013 from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service doing away with the differentiation between captive and wild chimpanzees.
Wild chimpanzees were categorized as endangered species in 1990 in the United States Endangered Species Act but the captive chimpanzees at that time were listed as threatened species. Labeling the captive apes as threatened species meant lesser protection but that has changed with the development in 2015.
Chimpanzees are faced with all kinds of threats today and that is why conservationists are doing everything possible to protect these apes from outright extinction. These threats include poaching, uncontrolled deforestation, and relentless capture for pet trade profits. All these have led to a shocking dwindling in the population of chimpanzees. The world-renowned Jane Goodall Institute stated that the chimpanzee population plunged from one million to around 172,000 to 300,000 in less than a century.
The threats are not limited to the ones mentioned earlier. Scientists have now agreed that global communities of chimpanzees are becoming more balkanized over the decades. Causes of these include the widespread expansion of agricultural activities or increased urbanization of areas. These have led to the transformation of entire forests into a pitiful wasteland. Hence, it is not a surprise that chimpanzees are now reduced to inhabiting tiny islands in forest patches.
Poaching is another ever-present threat that is devastating enough to trigger an extinction-level event for the chimpanzees. Killing chimpanzees for what is known locally as bushmeat is another major threat. Hunters kill these chimps for food, even in areas where these apes are classified as critically endangered. This does not only wreak serious havoc on the chimpanzee population, but it also constitutes a major threat to the health of the consumers.
Cities and towns all over Africa feature what is known as bushmeat in the markets. This is a reference to various species of wild animals killed for food. Apart from the chimps, others include crocodiles, monkeys, antelope, snails, buffalo, lizards, bats, and so on.
Even though many governments have declared this to be an illegal activity, it remains a persistent threat as bushmeat is a source of protein and income for many poverty-stricken families. Many hunters do not hesitate and hunt chimps, bonobos, gorillas, and others. This is worsened by the massive expansion of mining and logging activities in forests which serve as the natural habitat of the chimpanzees.
Some scientists and environmentalists have taken it upon themselves to ensure that this destruction of the species never happens. They have built databases that will keep tabs on these great apes and a good example of these is the IUCN – Great Apes Database. They have also agreed on the need to offer protection for healthy chimps before time runs out on the species.
These healthy subjects are made to face serious protection by local government authorities and researchers. There is also the need to ensure protection for the behavioral diversity of the chimpanzee population. Funds are gathered for research so that the population diversity of chimpanzees can be fully comprehended.