shrinking chimp habitat.gif

is this The future of wild chimpanzee habitat?

At current deforestation rates, chimpanzees could disappear entirely within this century.

shrinking habitat

Chimp habitat is rapidly disappearing due to rapid human population growth and resulting forest loss. Fifty years ago, chimps inhabited healthy forests across a wide swath of Equatorial Africa. Today, chimps are extinct from 4 African countries, and nearly so in 10 others.

The above animation of how chimp habitat is shrinking shows how the chimp forests are becoming fragmented into smaller bits of forest.  Where the forests have become too small to support groups of at least 500 chimps, the populations are not expected to survive over time. Human population explosion is causing loss of forests, as people cut down forests for timber and fuel and clear-cut them for crops.

Especially key to protecting chimps is saving the forests of the Congo Basin where the last large populations of chimpanzees survive – on the order of 200,000 to 250,000. These forests are especially concentrated in Cameroon, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As humans degrade these last great forests, chimps are threatened by deforestation; diseases like ebola, respiratory infections and tuberculosis; mining and habitat degradation; and the bushmeat trade.

Scientists have crafted conservation action plans (CAPs) for western and eastern chimpanzees, and the great ape populations of the eastern Congo Basin. These plans lay out scientists’ specific recommendations regarding needed actions to protect crucial forests.

Two important partnerships focusing on conserving the forests of Central Africa are the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and ECOFAC.  Both bring together governments, institutions, and non-government organizations to work in concert.  Groups like the World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Jane Goodall Institute are part of these efforts, and they are also working to enact Conservation Action Plans to protect critical areas and to create programs to educate and benefit locals. Carbon Offset (such as REDD +) initiatives are also being launched.

Get involved!

1) Ask your legislators to support vital international conservation and climate change programs. Find your representatives.

2) Support projects that focus on reforestation like the Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project or other great organizations on our Resources page.

3) Calculate your carbon footprint, and learn how to reduce your impact on climate change. You’ll find ways to do better, no matter how much you are already doing! Calculate Now.

4) Avoid products containing palm oil. The production of palm oil is one of the leading global causes of deforestation. Learn More.