Story by Cliff Abenaitwe

Species: Great Apes and Lesser Apes (Hominidae and Hylobatidae respectively) 

Known Habitant: Tropical forests in central Africa and Southeast Asia

Interviewed: Daniel Abowe; Ugandan environmental scientist, biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and resource governance specialist. 

A young Chimpanzee in Mahale Mountain National Park, Tanzania. Photo by Chris Thomas on Unsplash

Today’s world is facing a potential disaster: the extinction of Apes, though this can be avoided.

All Great Ape species are either Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, meaning that they are at very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, probably within our lifetime.

Human-wildlife conflict in relation to Apes has accelerated habitat loss, and this remains a considerable challenge to the conservation of humans’ closest relatives. This is attributed to many factors, including inadequate knowledge of Apes, with a cross-section of people unable to differentiate between Apes and Primates like monkeys. As Abowe explains, “Apes are primates, but not all primates are apes.”

It’s increasingly becoming clear that Apes should be conserved. Besides ecological-related benefits, communities in areas next to conservation areas stand to benefit more from Ape’s conservation. Abowe explains. 

Two Chimpanzees on Tree. Photo by oscar MUGISHA

With some Apes genera facing extinction: “We need to understand and protect these Apes,” says Abowe, lest we lose the biological and holistic conservation benefits. 

The protection of Apes plays a fundamental role in ecological balance and biodiversity conservation. This is important in adaptation to climate change. It is more than protecting our closest cousins; it also promotes and protects ‘One Health’.  

This story was produce with support from the Apes Reporting project.

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