Chimpanzees are our nearest genetic relatives on the tree of life. At this rate, eaten or forced to entertain zoo visitors or wealthy sheikhs, they’re heading for extinction. CITES seems unable to stop the slide and African governments don’t appear to consider it a problem.
If a wild animal has monetary value it’s a prelude to extinction. That’s because the cheapest way to acquire that animal is to poach it. Across Africa, control of poaching is dismal, haphazard, often corrupt and the increase in the value chain from the forest floor to the foreign consumer is eye-watering. As a result, the scale of wildlife extraction is best compared to a vacuum cleaner.
This is very bad news for chimps. They’re endangered and listed as Appendix 1 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning they may not be captured in the wild or traded for commercial purposes. But in Central and West Africa’s rain forests they’re high on poacher’s lists and are disappearing at an alarming rate. There are only around 200,000 left and the numbers are dropping fast.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that all four subspecies will face between a…