Taï Forest Chimpanzee Conservation
To promote the survival of western chimpanzees in the Ivory Coast both in situ and ex situ
Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus, have become one of the most threatened primate species. While the total numbers of chimapnezees were about 100'000 a few years ago, recent estimates suggest that the numbers of wild living chimps have been reduced to only 20'000 to 25'000. The clearing of forest by burning, poaching and logging, and the consequent spread of diseases, have been considered the greatest contributors to the ongoing decimation of chimpanzees.
Many acres of forest are being cleared by burning, to make room for farmers who grow a few crops on the land and then move on when the soil is no longer fertile. Once the forest is gone, the chimpanzees have no place to live; they must either move or die. Logging companies must constantly make new roads into the jungle in order to continue harvesting trees. These roads are then used by hunters who kill wild life and sell the meat they collect. While hunting duikers, bush pigs or other game, bush hunters do not hesitate to shoot chimpanzees and other apes when they get the chance. Juveniles are usually collected alive and sold for the pet trade. Another aspect of logging is that it brings diseases to the chimpanzee populations which had not previously been in contact with humans.
The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) is a multi-national foundation registered in Geneva. It has been initiated by the Swiss primatologist Christophe Boesch and is advised by individuals who join efforts to preserve as many as possible of the remaining wild chimpanzee populations and their natural habitat throughout their range in Africa. WCF's main objectives are to establish:
- a "Pan-African forest network for chimpanzees", with the aim to assure protection of 20 to 25,000 chimpanzees.
- a "Pan-African monitoring programme" to guarantee the preservation of the forest network by involving local people and by increasing knowledge of the chimpanzee populations being protected.
With the opening of "Pongoland", a public display and simultaneously a research facility operated by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in april 2001, the Leipzig Zoo became a member of WCF. Regarding the Taï Forest chimpanzees, WCF works in partnership with a.o. the Directorate for the Protection of Nature and National Parks of Ivory Coast and the Directorate of the Taï National Park.
WAZA Conservation Project 04020 is implemented by Leipzig Zoo.
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