In a population survey of West African chimpanzees living in Côte d'Ivoire, researchers estimate that this endangered subspecies has dropped in numbers by a whopping 90 percent since the last survey was conducted 18 years ago. The few remaining chimpanzees are now highly fragmented, with only one viable population living in Taï National Park, according to a report in the October 14th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.
Maybe in 50 years the human population of Africa will stop growing. Then again, maybe not. But long before that happens lots of primate species, cat species, and other species in Africa are going to be toast. Time to start doing massive DNA sample collection so that perhaps a couple of centuries from now these species can be reintroduced into the wild.
This alarming decline in a country that had been considered one of the final strongholds for West African chimps suggests that their status should be raised to critically endangered, said Geneviève Campbell of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
The booming human population in Côte d'Ivoire is probably responsible for the chimpanzees' demise.
"The human population in Cote d'Ivoire has increased nearly 50 percent over the last 18 years," said Christophe Boesch, also of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "Since most threats to chimpanzee populations are derived from human activities such as hunting and deforestation, this has contributed to the dramatic decline in chimpanzee populations. Furthermore, the situation has deteriorated even more with the start of the civil war in 2002, since all surveillance ceased in the protected areas."
Back in the late 80s the chimps in Ivory Coast were half the remaining chimps. Maybe they still are if the chimps in the rest of Africa are fairing just as poorly.
In the 1960s, the population of chimpanzees in Côte d'Ivoire was estimated at about 100,000 individuals. At the end of the 1980s, when the first and last nationwide chimpanzee survey was carried out, the total population of chimpanzees was estimated at 8,000 to 12,000 individuals. While that already represented a drastic decrease from the expected numbers, it nonetheless meant that Côte d'Ivoire harbored about half of the world's remaining West African chimpanzee populations.
In the new study, Campbell and Boesch's team conducted another nationwide survey, revealing a 90 percent drop in the chimpanzee nest encounter rate since the time of the last survey. That catastrophic decline in chimpanzees is especially strong in forest areas with low protection status, where the researchers saw no sign of the chimps. Even in protected areas like Marahoué National Park, chimpanzees have clearly suffered since surveillance and external funding support were disrupted by civil unrest in 2002.
Ivory Coast women are producing more than 4 babies per woman. While it has a population of 20.1 million today you can pay a visit to the US Census Bureau's web site's international database and do a query for population projections for 2050 and find that they expect a population of over 37 million. Even with the current population there's probably enough people in Ivory Coast to wipe out all the chimps. I doubt the chimps stand a chance with 37 million. So bye bye wild chimps. You can visit them in some zoos.
To my commenters who do not believe massive species extinctions are in store: Where are those chimps hiding?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2008 October 13 10:45 PM Trends Extinction|