Sanctuaries Rescue Endangered Chimpanzee

More than a dozen sanctuaries across Africa shelter chimpanzees rescued from poaching, war, and other traumatic situations. Major efforts are being made to protect the endangered species.

Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is one of 18 chimpanzee sanctuaries in 12 African countries caring for about 800 chimpanzees. They operate under the auspices of the U.S.-based Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, which works toward primate protection and rehabilitation.

Executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute in South Africa, David Oosthuizen, said the number one threat against chimpanzees is the bushmeat trade, where chimps and other animals are killed for food. He said the trade is being fueled by overpopulation, and the resulting competition for food is particularly intense in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Central African Republic.

He said a close second in threats to the chimpanzee is massive deforestation all across the continent, wiping out their natural habitat, something he noticed while on a recent rescue mission to Central African Republic.

Shrinking natural habitat

Chimpanzees, classified as being an endangered species, are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. It is estimated that there are 175,000 chimps remaining on the continent, mostly in West and Central Africa, with some in East Africa. Ol Pejeta Conservancy quotes scientists as predicting chimpanzees will be extinct in 50 years if current rates of decline continue.

Read the complete article on Voice of America

Photo: Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary

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