Friday, September 02, 2005

Apes may soon be extinct, says study

The first-ever World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation details the habitats of the six remaining species and how those areas are at risk.

It shows that the effects of poverty, disease, hunting and logging could result in man's closest cousin being made extinct within a generation.

The project, undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, is the first to bring together new research about apes and their habitats.

It claims that there may be less than 350,000 great apes left in the wild, and identifies the 100 most at risk populations of the eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzee, bonobo and the Sumatran and Bornean orang-utan.

The Cross River gorilla, which lives in Cameroon and Nigeria, is thought to be the rarest surviving species, with an estimated population of only 250 to 280.

Scientists behind the mapping project said that by exposing the extent of the threat to the apes, they hope to prompt more conservation efforts.

In a foreword to the atlas, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan writes: "By conserving the great apes, we can also protect the livelihoods of the many people who rely on forests for food, clean water and much else."

Story here.

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