The central chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) is classified as Endangered (EN A4cd) on the IUCN Red List 2008 (Tutin et al., 2008) indicating that it has a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. It is also listed on Appendix I of CITES.
Pan troglodytes troglodytes is one of four recognized subspecies of the common (or robust) chimpanzee. It has a range that includes the following countries: Angola (Cabinda), Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea and Gabon (Tutin et al., 2008). More specifically the central chimpanzee occurs widely in southern Cameroon south of the Sanaga River. Its’ range extends east into the western part of the CAR where it is largely confined to the extreme southwest. To the south, the subspecies also occurs in two areas of Equatorial Guinea, and is widespread throughout Gabon and the northern part of Republic of Congo. It also occurs fairly widely in the Kouilou Basin in southern Republic of Congo and near the border with DRC. The southernmost localities are in the Cabinda province of Angola and in the extreme west of DRC. Its’ range stops at the Congo River in Republic of Congo and its’ most eastern range is the Ubangi River that branches off the Congo River (Inskipp, 2005). To learn more about their distribution please activate the Pan troglodytes troglodytes range layer in the interactive map.
Accurately estimating the total number of central chimpanzees is fraught with difficulty due to methodological issues (many estimates are based on outdated information, and methods used are not always comparable) and the enormous and remote region in which chimpanzees live. In addition, populations have declined dramatically with Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreaks and poaching (Tutin et al., 2005). Current population estimates suggest that between 70,000 to 116,500 central chimpanzees remain (Oates et al., 2008). The variation in minimum maximum numbers reflects that much remains unknown about the subspecies, and caution is urged with interpretation of figures.
The four subspecies of chimpanzee face similar threats to varying degrees in different regions. Despite central Africa having one of the lowest human population densities of any tropical forest zone in the world, ape populations continue to decline. Decreases in wild chimpanzee numbers are attributed to increased commercial hunting, disease transmission (particularly Ebola) and mechanized logging (altering forest structure and facilitating poaching). In the short term, the most serious threats facing chimpanzees are poaching and disease. Over the longer-term habitat loss and disturbance are predicted to become as serious a threat within three to five decades (Tutin et al., 2005).
In the past decade, industrial logging in central Africa has expanded rapidly and now impacts almost all central chimpanzee habitats, and in some countries this includes protected areas. The intrusion of logging roads and vehicles into previously remote areas is associated with rapid human immigration and population growth, including new demands for bushmeat. Bushmeat, including chimpanzees, is sold not only to local villagers but also to logging camp workers (and dependants), and increasingly to residents of distant towns and major cities. Poaching of apes occurs despite the fact that they are protected under both national and international laws in all range states. The trade in live apes continues to be a problem, and when a mother is caught with a live infant, it may be sold as part of the pet trade.
Great apes are vulnerable to many pathogens and diseases that affect humans. Despite low human population densities in chimpanzee inhabited regions, rural communities often have limited or no access to health services and typically are not vaccinated against diseases that can be transmitted to apes with high mortality rates (Tutin et al., 2005). Considering these risks, conservation and research activities such as habituation and tourism should adhere to strict protocols aimed at protecting the apes (Macfie & Williamson, 2010).
Ebola can have a massive impact on chimpanzee populations (Walsh et al., 2003). In the northeast Minkébé Forest of Gabon, the recorded chimpanzee population declined by 99% due to an Ebola epidemic (Huijbregts et al., 2003). Female chimpanzees give birth for the first time at about age fourteen and once every 4-5 years thereafter. Even with perfect protection from hunting, it would take approximately 150 years for these chimpanzee populations to recover to pre-Ebola levels (Tutin et al., 2005).
Many national, regional and international organisations are working to protect the central chimpanzee through conservation initiatives and research programmes. The subspecies is protected by national laws, international agreements, and many countries have long-established networks of protected areas. Despite this, chimpanzee populations continue to decline and this led a group of experts to develop a unified strategy and action plan for the conservation of the central subspecies. The action plan also includes similar measures to safeguard coexisting western lowland gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla populations. Combining expert opinion and the best available data, priority areas for central chimpanzee conservation were identified as: Odzala/Lossi/Pikounda/ Ngombe/Ntokou complex, Republic of Congo; Lac Tele/Likouala complex, Republic of Congo; Sangha Trinational complex, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and CAR; Loango/Moukalaba-Doudou/Gamba complex, Gabon; Dja Conservation complex, Cameroon; Boumba-Bek/Nki complex, Cameroon; and Lopé/Waka complex, Gabon (Tutin et al., 2005).
The action plan detailed priority areas and actions needed to ensure ape survival but overarching knowledge gaps to effectively protect the subspecies. Priority actions attached to particular sites include: a disease surveillance programme and rapid response structure; bio-monitoring and baseline surveys where appropriate (the Ebo/Ndokbou conservation complex, Cameroon; and the Maiombe Forest Transboundary Initiative, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo were identified as priorities for surveys); capacity building for research skills generally and standardised protocols for bio-monitoring training and implementation; improvement of judicial and law enforcement structures; development and promotion of national and transboundary structures; development and promotion of responsible great ape tourism; establishment and maintenance of basic management infrastructure at a site level; reactivation and maintenance of permanent great ape research areas; establishment of community-based biodiversity enterprises; and public education and awareness programmes.
Overarching gaps in knowledge and capacity needed to effectively conserve western lowland gorillas include: refinement of survey methods and evaluation of innovative techniques to improve estimates of ape abundance; improvement of information accessibility (through a centralized database with geo-referenced ape survey data); large-scale survey and monitoring (establishment of a regional monitoring programme to coordinate surveys and ensure consistency of monitoring methods); capacity building opportunities in ape research, monitoring methods and technical support for national researchers; and improved understanding of Ebola transmission dynamics and potential control measures, and evaluation of alternative vaccine delivery methods for wild ape populations.
Experts believe that implementation of the plan, if successful, would guarantee the survival of the majority of apes remaining in the region. Many other species would benefit along with the endangered central chimpanzee. The action plan emphasizes that successful protection of great apes will require a collaborative effort to establish, implement and monitor region-wide priorities. In addition to site-specific and general knowledge gaps, the plan provides a series of immediate response needs and longer-term mitigation strategies for the three main threats consistent across the region (poaching, disease and logging). Crucially anti-poaching, it is argued, should be the foundation upon which all other ape conservation activities rest, as it is the most effective means of protecting apes in western equatorial Africa (Tutin et al., 2005).
Compiled and edited by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Dave Morgan, Crickette Sanz and Liz Williamson
Huijbregts, B., de Wachter, P., Obiang, L.S.N., et al. (2003). Ebola and the decline of gorilla Gorilla gorilla and chimpanzee Pan troglodytes populations in Minkébé Forest, north-eastern Gabon. Oryx 37:437-443.
Inskipp, T. (2005). Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). In: World atlas of apes and their conservation (eds). Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Caldecott, J., Miles, L. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.
Macfie, E.J.. & Williamson, E.A. (2010). Best Practice Guidelines for Great Ape Tourism. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.
Oates, J.F., Tutin, C.E.G., Humle, T., Wilson, M.L., Baillie, J.E.M., Balmforth, Z., Blom, A., Boesch, C., Cox, D., Davenport, T., Dunn, A., Dupain, J., Duvall, C., Ellis, C.M., Farmer, K.H., Gatti, S., Greengrass, E., Hart, J., Herbinger, I., Hicks, C., Hunt, K.D., Kamenya, S., Maisels, F., Mitani, J.C., Moore, J., Morgan, B.J., Morgan, D.B., Nakamura, M., Nixon, S., Plumptre, A.J., Reynolds, V., Stokes, E.J. & Walsh, P.D. (2008). Pan troglodytes. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org
Tutin, C., Stokes, E., Boesch, C., Morgan, D., Sanz, C., Reed, T., Blom, A., Walsh, P., Blake, S., Kormos, R. (2005). Regional action plan for the conservation of chimpanzees and gorillas in Western Equatorial Africa. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and Conservation International. Washington, DC.
Tutin, C.E.G., Baillie, J.E.M., Dupain, J., Gatti, S., Maisels, F., Stokes, E.J., Morgan, D.B. & Walsh, P.D. (2008). Pan troglodytes ssp. troglodytes. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. www.iucnredlist.org.
Walsh, P.D., Abernathy, K.A., Bermejo, M., Beyersk, R., De Wachter, P., Akou, M.E., Huijbregts, B.,Mambounga, D.I., Toham, A.K., Kilbournk, A.M., Lahmq, S.A., Latour, S., Maisels, F., Mbinak, C., Mihindouk, Y., Obiang, S.N., Effa, E.N., Starkey, M.P.,Telfer, P., Thibault, M., Tutin, C.E.G.,, White, L.J.T., Wilkie, D.S. (2003). Catastrophic ape decline in western equatorial Africa. Nature 422:611–614.
The eastern chimpanzee is classified as Endangered (EN A4cd) on the IUCN Red List 2008 (Wilson et al., 2008) indicating that it has a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. It is also listed on Appendix I of CITES.
Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii is one of four recognized subspecies of the common (or robust) chimpanzee. It has a range that spans the Ubangi River/Congo River in Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to western Uganda, Rwanda and western Tanzania. There are also small isolated populations in Burundi and south-eastern Sudan (Wilson et al., 2008).
Their numbers are thought to have been previously underestimated and current calculations indicate a minimum population size of 200,000-250,000 across their range (Plumptre et al., 2010). There is a dearth of survey information from some countries, such as Sudan, due to years of civil war. To learn more about their distribution please activate the Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii range layer in the interactive map.
The four subspecies of P. troglodytes face similar threats to varying degrees in different regions. The major threats to eastern chimpanzees include hunting for bushmeat and the live trade in infant chimpanzees, habitat loss and fragmentation, and disease transmission (Plumptre et al., 2010). Chimpanzees occur at low densities across their range, and with their slow reproductive rates (one infant born every 4-5 years), they take a long time to recover from any reduction in population.
Populations are hunted across their range but particularly in DRC and CAR where they are targeted for bushmeat (chimpanzees are larger in comparison to other primates and can provide a reasonable amount of meat to sell). Bushmeat hunting in CAR is exacerbated by well armed Sudanese poachers, militia and refugees, inadequate capacity to implement law and order, and high levels of human suffering, the latter superseding much needed interventions to combat environmental crime. When chimpanzee mothers are captured with live infants, offspring are often traded as pets. Although the pet trade is illegal in all range countries that are signatories to CITES, it persists across Africa. DRC has been identified as a key source country of chimpanzees being illegally traded within and out of Africa (Hicks et al., 2010).
Chimpanzee habitat across the Congo Basin is gradually being fragmented by roads and human settlements. Roads are constructed to link settlements and/or for the removal of timber, facilitating access of hunters to previously remote areas and better transportation routes. In East Africa (including Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) there is less killing for bushmeat but chimpanzee populations are declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation as land is converted for agriculture. People may kill chimpanzees to protect their crops and they may also be maimed or killed unintentionally when caught in snares set for other animals. Limb deformities in chimpanzees living in the Budongo Forest are nearly all attributable to wire snares and leg-hold traps set in the forest (Waller & Reynolds, 2003).
There is a great risk of disease transmission in East Africa as human-chimpanzee populations generally live in close proximity. Human gut fauna are found in chimpanzees and other primates in Kibale National Park that live adjacent to human settlements, and similarities between the gut fauna of people and primates increases with increasing forest fragmentation (Plumptre et al., 2010). This is further exacerbated by several countries in East Africa offering eco-tourism opportunities, where tourists can come within 7-10 metres to habituated groups of wild chimpanzees. Given the use of tourism in chimpanzee conservation, strict guidelines have been developed to minimize disease risks (Macfie & Williamson, 2010).
This subspecies is probably the best well known due to long-term behavioural and ecological research undertaken at Gombe Stream National Park (by Jane Goodall), in the Mahale National Mountains Park (by Toshisida Nishida), at Kibale Forest, Uganda (by Richard Wrangham), and in Budongo Forest Reserve, also in Uganda (by Vernon Reynolds). Despite this scientific monitoring, populations are declining (Wilson et al., 2008) and a range of experts were convened in 2009 to develop a 10 year action plan for the subspecies. The aim of the plan was to develop strategies to reduce (or halt) the decline of eastern chimpanzees across their range by identifying key populations and priority actions. Data on the distribution of this sub-species were collated, and through a priority setting process, led to the identification of 16 chimpanzee conservation units (priority populations for conservation).
In summary, due to rapid development activities across DRC, conservation areas need to be identified very soon, and where development does occur, its impacts need to be minimised and mitigated. Surveys are a priority in CAR (generally and specifically the southeast), Sudan, particularly the border area with CAR, and DRC, particularly northwestern regions (the majority of the historic range of the eastern chimpanzee falls within the DRC). In other areas, key sites require protected area status (Greater Mahale Ecosystem, including Ugalla and Masito-Savanna woodland, and a site in the western Congolese swamp forest). Furthermore, monitoring of chimpanzee populations is not being undertaken at many sites across their range. Projects tackling the greatest threats (hunting, habitat loss or degradation, followed by lack of law enforcement) were given the highest priority as they are likely to have the greatest impact on eastern chimpanzee conservation.
The plan presents a range of high priority actions for each country and region. They are grouped according to six main areas that each comprise a variety of priority activities: (1) policy and legislation (creation of protected areas where needed; country specific conservation plans where they do not already exist i.e., CAR and Sudan; development of rapid response protocols and mechanisms for disease outbreaks; implementation of guidelines for regulations with habituated chimpanzees; revision of land-use plans and implementation of village land-use plans); (2) species and habitat (stronger law enforcement i.e., increasing surveillance, eco-guards and judiciary efficiency; restoration of degraded habitat); (3) monitoring and research (study of the distribution and drivers of hunting on chimpanzees, particularly for CAR and DRC; spatial analysis using available data to identify potential chimpanzee habitat and prediction of areas that may support important populations; workshop on survey and monitoring standards; training to build capacity in survey and monitoring methodology; standardised exploratory surveys; implementation of standardised long-term population and management monitoring initiatives; standardised health monitoring methods and implementation for habituated groups; research of charcoal and fuelwood needs); (4) public awareness and training (development of teacher environmental materials; production and dissemination of materials to strengthen community awareness and inform people about existing laws; meetings and workshops to educate about existing laws; field visits to educate politicians and local people in authority; establishment of a communication network for disseminating information about chimpanzee diseases and deaths; a broad base education campaign and one specifically targeting school children); (5) community involvement (development of tourism and ecotourism projects; conservation management programmes to incorporate local community employment); programmes for alternative protein supplies to replace bushmeat; (6) sustainable finance (a business plan for each conservation unit).
Implementation of priority actions in these units, if successful, could conserve about 96% of known chimpanzee populations across most of the eco-regions where they occur, and capture the range of ecological and cultural variation that exists within the subspecies (Plumptre et al., 2010).
Compiled and edited by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Elizabeth Lonsdorf and Alex Piel
Hicks, T.C., Darby, L., Hart, J., Swinkels, J., van Hooff, J., January, N. and Menken, S. (2010). Trade in orphans and bushmeat threatens one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s most important populations of eastern chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. African Primates 7(1):1-18
Macfie, E.J. & Williamson, E.A. (2010). Best practice guidelines for great ape tourism. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.
Plumptre, A.J., Rose, R., Nangendo, G., Williamson, E.A., Didier, K., Hart, J., Mulindahabi, F., Hicks, C., Griffin, B., Ogawa, H., Nixon, S., Pintea, L., Vosper, A., McClennan, M., Amsini, F., McNeilage, A., Makana, J.R., Kanamori, M., Hernandez, A., Piel, A., Stewart, F., Moore, J., Zamma, K., Nakamura, M., Kamenya, S., Idani. G., Sakamaki, T., Yoshikawa, M., Greer, D., Tranqulli, S., Beyers, R., Furuichi, T., Hasimoto, C., Bennett, E. (2010). Eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii): status survey and conservation action plan 2010-2020. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
Wilson, M.L., Balmforth, Z., Cox, D., Davenport, T., Hart, J., Hicks, C., Hunt, K.D., Kamenya, S., Mitani, J.C., Moore, J., Nakamura, M, Nixon, S., Plumptre, A.J. & Reynolds, V. (2008). Pan troglodytes ssp. schweinfurthii. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. www.iucnredlist.org.
Waller, J.C., Reynolds, V. (2001). Limb injuries resulting from snares and traps in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii ) of the Budongo Forest, Uganda. Primates 42 (2): 135–139.
The western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) is classified as Endangered (EN A4cd) on the IUCN Red List 2008 (Humle et al., 2008) indicating that it has a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. It is also listed on Appendix I of CITES.
Pan troglodytes verus is one of four recognized subspecies of the common (or robust) chimpanzee (Gonder et al., 1997). It is found in West Africa where its range extends from Senegal to possibly western Nigeria. Its distribution is restricted in three West African countries: Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal (Humle et al., 2008). Unconfirmed reports have also suggested that chimpanzees migrate into southwestern Burkina Faso (Inskipp, 2005). P. t. verus has already disappeared from the wild in Togo (Campbell and Radley, 2006) and the Gambia and is also possibly extinct in Benin (Humle et al, 2008; Kormos et al. 2003). Therefore P. t. verus primarily survives today in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone (Humle et al., 2008). The Dahomey Gap may act as the boundary separating the Upper Guinean western subspecies (P. t. verus) from its neighbour the Nigerian-Cameroon subspecies Pan troglodytes ellioti (Gonder et al., 2011). However, the eastern boundary of P. t. verus still remains unclear due to the scarcity of genetic data from wild chimpanzees inhabiting western Nigeria (Kormos et al., 2003).
A growing body of genetic studies is increasingly suggesting that P. t. verus should be elevated to full species status because it forms a monophyletic group which is distantly related to the other three known subspecies (Morin et al., 1994; Gonder et al., 2011).
Current population estimates of P. t. verus range between 21,300 and 55,600 (Kormos et al., 2003). The large variation in minimum-maximum numbers is a reflection that much remains unknown about West Africa’s chimpanzee populations and that many estimates of population sizes and distributions are based on outdated information. More recent surveys are providing refinements to these figures, although survey methods still remain susceptible to wide margins of error and many areas still remain unsurveyed. For example, results of the 2010 Sierra Leone National Chimpanzee Census Project indicate that the number of chimpanzees remaining approximates 5,500 individuals, ranging from 3,052 to 10,446, doubling previous estimates for Sierra Leone (Brncic et al., 2010). To learn more about the distribution of this subspecies please activate the Pan troglodytes verus range layer in the interactive map.
The four subspecies face similar threats to varying degrees in different regions. The two West African subspecies however are the most threatened of all chimpanzees. Indeed, P.t.verus has already disappeared from the wild in three West African countries (Benin, Gambia and Togo) and possibly Burkina Faso. It could soon be extirpated from Senegal, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau where national populations are thought to be smaller than 1,000 individuals. Whilst the results of the survey in Sierra Leone are positive, it also indicated that chimpanzee numbers have fallen, and that over half occur live outside of protected areas (Brncic et al., 2010).
Throughout their range, chimpanzees are threatened by habitat destruction and loss, poaching, disease, and capture for the pet trade. These threats are exacerbated by human population growth, and in some countries, by the expansion of extractive industries such as logging and mining, and human displacement due to political instability. The West African region has been fraught with civil conflict, with the main conflicts in the last two decades occurring in Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. These conflicts have killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of people throughout the region, significantly impacted national capacity to manage environmental concerns, and impeded the presence of conservation organisations. Displacement can also bring a loss of local taboos that prevent the killing and consumption of chimpanzees.
Habitat loss is listed as the primary threat to chimpanzee populations in Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, and hunting in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria (Kormos et al., 2003). The hunting and killing of chimpanzees for their meat, as well as a defense against crop-raiding, was indeed identified as the greatest threats to remaining chimpanzee populations in Sierra Leone (Brncic et al., 2010). In recent years, an increasing proportion of these countries have also been ear-marked for either mining prospection and exploitation or logging. This trend will likely exacerbate habitat loss and degradation in the near future and affect chimpanzee numbers across their range in countries of concern, in particular Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Other threats listed include fuelwood consumption (wood fuel being the primary energy provider in the majority of African countries), agriculture, fires, and human-chimpanzee conflict. A survey undertaken throughout Côte d’Ivoire in 11 different sites indicate a 90 % (range of 68-99%) decline in the total nest encounter rate over a 17 year period, suggesting a catastrophic decline in the total population. This is attributed to rapidly increasing human population densities that are generally associated with greater poaching pressure and higher rates of deforestation (Campbell et al., 2008).
Increasing population densities are increasing the frequency of encounters between chimpanzees and humans and/or human waste, and are leading to higher risks of disease transmission. The Ebola virus was responsible for killing 25% of a chimpanzee community in Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire in 1994, and in 1999, an acute respiratory disease reduced the community by further 25% (Herbinger et al., 2003). In 2003, 7% of the Bossou chimpanzee community in Guinea also succumbed to an outbreak of respiratory disease (Humle, 2011).
West Africa obtained the lowest scores for conservation effectiveness in a comparison of the management of protected areas containing chimpanzees (Struhsaker et al., 2005). This reflects the nature of threats outlined earlier and is consistent with lower abundance of the subspecies and their vulnerability since many populations occur outside protected areas. It was the precarious status of chimpanzees in West Africa that led to a convening of experts in 2002 to discuss priority actions and develop an action plan listing site-specific and region-wide priority actions (Kormos & Boesch, 2003).
The action plan highlighted five exceptionally important areas (and very important priority areas) for the subspecies, each with priority actions, where conservation efforts should be concentrated. Exceptionally important priority areas identified at the time include: Fouta Djallon highlands (Guinea and Guinea Bissau); Taï-Grebo-Sapo-Cestos (Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia); Haut Niger National park (Guinea): Manding Plateau (Mali, Senegal, and Guinea); and Nimba Mountains (Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Liberia) (Kormos & Boesch, 2003). Other areas believed to be important but data deficient and in urgent need of surveys are: Diécké and Ziama (Guinea), Wonegizi (Liberia), Loma Mountains (Sierra Leone) and Haut Sassandra and Mont Péko (Côte D’Ivoire).
Priority actions for each site reflect site-specific needs and include the following required actions: survey and monitoring; education and awareness campaigns including a national or sub-national programme of environmental education; study on threats including bushmeat, pet trade, and chimpanzee-human competition over natural resources; development, improvement and support for management plans; corridor creation; promotion of chimpanzee related tourism; support to national parks; projects to provide alternative protein sources; building of local capacity; more research on ecology and behaviour; improvement in law enforcement; formalize protected area recognition and legal status; and transboundary programmes (Kormos & Boesch, 2003).
Regional non-site specific priority actions include the following actions: chimpanzee sanctuaries (creation of a trust fund, better coordination, exploration of re-introduction, national capacity building of care-givers, expansion of educational packages, exploration of tourism possibilities and an accreditation system); bio-monitoring (development of a spatial method of surveying, creation of a ranger-based monitoring programme, evaluation of the efficiency of protection); education and awareness (development and expansion of an education and awareness programme including materials explaining relevant laws); review of legislation enforcement (including assessment of enforcement at every stage, and support for the necessary amendments to legislation) (Kormos & Boesch, 2003).
A key feature of the plan is the protection of chimpanzee habitat. This approach also benefits numerous other threatened species in a region that ranks among the world’s most biologically diverse. The action plans, if successfully implemented would protect 80% of chimpanzees in West Africa (Kormos & Boesch, 2003). Leadership, particularly national and regional, is key to ensuring that action plans are not just an academic exercise but an effective tool for action and change (Kormos, 2008).
Compiled and edited by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Tatyana Humle and Ilka Herbinger
Brncic, T.M., Amarasekaran, B., McKenna, A. (2010). Sierra Leone national chimpanzee census September 2010. Unpublished report, Tacugama Chimpanzee Project, Sierra Leone.
Campbell, G., & Radley, P. (2006). Primate and bird diversity in the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park, Togo. Unpublished report presented to Conservation International, Washington.
Campbell, G., Kuehl, H., Kouamé, P. Boesch, C. (2008). Alarming decline of West African chimpanzees in Côte d’Ivoire. Current Biology Vol. 18(19): 903-904.
Gonder, M. K., Oates, J. F., Disotell, T. R., Forstner, M. R. J., Morales, J. C., & Melnick, D. J. (1997). A new West African chimpanzee subspecies? [Letter]. Nature, 388(6640), 337-337.
Gonder, M. K., Locatelli, S., Ghobrial, L., Mitchell, M. W., Kujawski, J. T., Lankester, F. J., et al. (2011). Evidence from Cameroon reveals differences in the genetic structure and histories of chimpanzee populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Vol. 108(12): 4766-4771.
Herbinger, I., Boesch, C., Tondossama, A (2003). Côte d’Ivoire. In: West African Chimpanzees. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. R. Kormos, C. Boesch, I.M. Bakarr and T. Butynski (eds). IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Humle, T., Boesch, C., Duvall, C., Ellis, C.M., Farmer, K.H., Herbinger, I., Blom, A. & Oates, J.F. (2008). Pan troglodytes ssp. verus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. www.iucnredlist.org.
Humle, T. (2011). The 2003 epidemic of respiratory disease at Bossou. In: The Chimpanzees of Bossou and Nimba. T. Matsuzawa, T. Humle & Y. Sugiyama (eds). Springer-Verlag Tokyo.
Inskipp, T. (2005). Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). In: World atlas of apes and their conservation. J. Caldecott & L. Miles (eds). Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.
Kormos, R. (2008). Impact assessment: action plan for chimpanzees in West Africa. Unpublished report.
Kormos, R., Boesch, C., Bakarr, M.I. and Butynski, T (eds). (2003). West African chimpanzees. Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Kormos, R. & Boesch, C. (2003). Regional action plan for the conservation of chimpanzees in West Africa. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Morin, P. A., Moore, J. J., Chakraborty, R., Jin, L., Goodall, J., & Woodruff, D. S. (1994). Kin selection, social-structure, gene flow, and the evolution of chimpanzees. Science 265(5176): 1193-1201.
Struhsaker, T.T., Struhsaker, P.J., Siex, K.S. (2005). Conserving Africa's rain forests: problems in protected areas and possible solutions. Biological Conservation 123(1): 45-54.
The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) is classified as Endangered (EN A4cd) on the IUCN Red List 2008 (Oates et al., 2008) indicating that it has a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. It is also listed on Appendix I of CITES.
Pan troglodytes ellioti is one of four recognized subspecies of the common (or robust) chimpanzee. As the name suggests, this subspecies only occurs in Nigeria and Cameroon with its range extending through forested habitats north of the Sanaga River in Cameroon, the eastern edge of Nigeria, and in forest fragments southwestern Nigeria and the Nigeria Delta.
In Cameroon, large populations of ellioti persist at the (proposed) Ebo National Park, Mt. Cameroon National Park, Mbam and Djerem National Park, and at the Banyang Mbo Wildlife Reserve. Mbam and Djerem is a forest-savannah mosaic habitat, where at least 500 chimpanzees remain in the core zone of the park (Maisels et al. 2009). Ebo is a lowland submontane forest and connected logging concession, where perhaps 750 chimpanzees remain, and Banyang Mbo Wildlife Reserve has a population size of between 500-1,000 individuals (Greengrass and Maisels, 2007). P. t. ellioti also occurs at several other locations in western Cameroon, particularly near the border with Nigeria, including the Takamanda and Korup National Parks. In Nigeria, the largest ellioti populations, possibily around 1,000 individuals exist in Gashaka-Gumti National Park, a mosaic landscape of semi-deciduous forest and savannah. In total there are between 3,500 and 9,000 Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees remaining in the wild making this the most endangered of the four subspecies (Morgan et al., 2011). There are approximately 70 chimpanzees living in sanctuaries for captive primates in Cameroon and Nigeria. Estimates can be viewed at http://www.ellioti.org/numbers.
To learn more about their distribution please activate the Pan troglodytes ellioti range layer in the interactive map.
The four subspecies face similar threats to varying degrees in different regions. The main threats to the survival of this subspecies are the conversion and loss of habitat and hunting (Morgan et al., 2011). These threats are exacerbated by the continuing growth of human populations and the development of economies in Cameroon and Nigeria.
Loss and conversion of forest within the range of P. t. ellioti is due to agriculture, logging, grazing and fire. In Nigeria, several forest reserves have been converted to farmland and to commercial oil palm and rubber plantations. Large areas of forest surrounding key protected areas such as Okomu and Cross River National Parks have already been converted to oil palm plantations. Extensive new oil palm developments are also underway in Cameroon, in both Littoral and South West regions. In Cameroon, new logging concessions continue to be established, and the ensuing road network opens up the forest to more intense hunting pressure (Laurance et al., 2006; Wilkie et al., 2000), and the noise and disturbance associated with hunting causes chimpanzees to change their ranging patterns, sometimes moving into areas occupied by other chimpanzee communities, where they face aggression (White and Tutin, 2001). Farmland usually follows after a forest has been logged, especially in southwestern Nigeria, and where farming becomes intensive there is a permanent loss of chimpanzee habitat. Habitat loss also occurs in the drier parts of P. t. ellioti range (such as Mbam & Djerem and the Bamenda Highlands in Cameroon, and Gashaka- Gumti and Mambilla in Nigeria) where pastoralists encourage the destruction of forest by fire to provide grazing for cattle, and which may then may be converted to farmland.
Whilst logging is a main threat, hunting is probably the greatest threat, exacerbated by easy access to modern weapons and transport systems, and high financial incentives for supplying bushmeat to an increasing urbanized (and wealthy) population (Morgan et al., 2011). Hunting has been shown to be widespread across Cameroon (Ghobrial et al., 2010) and presumably occurs frequently in Nigeria at least in places where large numbers of chimpanzees persist. Where taboos against hunting chimpanzees might have once have existed, younger hunters increasingly disregard traditional hunting practice, and chimpanzees are sold for food and body parts for traditional medicine. As a consequence of low population densities and slow reproductive rate, chimpanzees are particularly at risk of local extinctions. Based on the number of chimpanzees arriving at sanctuaries from confiscations in the region, it is estimated that hunting for bushmeat will threaten this subspecies with extinction within the next 2-3 generations (PASA, 2004). Poaching of chimpanzees for bushmeat occurs in all areas of ellioti range with the exception of Nigeria's Gashaka-Gumti National Park (a predominately Islamic area), where primates are less heavily hunted. Young chimpanzees captured as a by-product of hunting are sold as pets. There is a significant illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, and Nigeria and Cameroon have been identified as key source countries for the illegal trade in apes within and out of Africa. Nigeria was suspended by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in 2005 following reported breach in illegal wildlife trade and weak legislation. CITES is an international agreement between governments which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Having fulfilled all the conditions for lifting the ban, the suspension was lifted in 2011.
The frequency of encounters between chimpanzees and humans, and human waste products, is increasing as human populations expand in number and range, leading to higher risks of disease transmission. In Nigeria, most chimpanzee sites are no more than a few hours away from human habitation (Oates et al., 2003). Large commercial farms have been developed close to chimpanzee habitat and there is a well developed road network. Although the devastating epidemics of Ebola virus that have decimated some Central African ape populations have not been recorded within the range of P. t. ellioti, habitat loss and hunting has fragmented populations so that many are now small and isolated and at increased risk of extinction from disease (Morgan et al., 2011).
Approaches to chimpanzee conservation in Cameroon and Nigeria have combined the creation and management of protected areas, with increasing public awareness (of the benefits and value of wildlife conservation), and institutional and human capacity building (including community participation in local conservation initiatives). There are currently nine national parks and two wildlife sanctuaries within the range of ellioti which theoretically offer the greatest hope to sustain populations given competing needs of an increasing human populace. As many chimpanzees exist outside of protected areas, community-based conservation measures have increased across the region.
Instigated by the bleak outlook facing the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, a range of experts convened in 2008, 2009 and 2010 to develop a regional conservation action plan. The overall goal of the process was to determine priority sites and actions to ensure the long-term survival of ellioti (Morgan et al., 2011). The conservation action plan is organised according to eight geographical conservation planning units which coincide with political boundaries and contain more than 95% of Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees. Within these units, sites are prioritized relative to population density, area of actual or potential chimpanzee habitat and long-term conservation outlook, where conservation effort might be expected to have most effect. Overall, fifteen sites are identified as ‘exceptionally important’ and ten as ‘important’ for chimpanzee conservation. High priority actions for each site reflect site-specific needs, but include the following: capacity building of forestry and park staff; establishment of research stations; strengthening of outreach and education programmes generally but specifically awareness campaigns directed at local communities and the state government; assessment of tourism potential; promotion of international wildlife tourism not based on chimpanzee habituation; distribution and abundance surveys; cessation of forest conversion surrounding NPs; support for law enforcement and use of monitoring systems; creation of formal conservation areas and management plans; socio-economic surveys; analysis on long-term viability of chimpanzee populations including assessment of potential connectivity to other habitat; cessation of all illegal activities negatively affecting chimpanzees; strengthening of community participation and community conservation initiatives to conserve chimpanzees and their habitat; review of park boundaries; identification, monitoring and targeting of great ape bush-meat markets; regular monitoring of logging activities; engagement with private sector to mitigate environmental impacts.
Broader overarching and regional-wide priority actions focus on trans-boundary collaboration, law enforcement, and research needs. At least 20% of the P. t. ellioti population is found at sites bisected by the international boundary and priority actions to facilitate transboundary efforts include: a joint inter-governmental agreement; better communication and coordination; joint patrols and biological surveys; and an awareness campaign and exchange visits. Priority actions for law enforcement include: a review of legislation; a campaign to stop the live trade of infant chimpanzees and sale of chimpanzee meat and body parts in markets; and capacity building of wildlife officials. Priorities for research include; expansion of population monitoring, particularly at Gashaka-Gumti National Park, the proposed Ebo National Park and Mbam & Djerem National Park; clarification on distribution and abundance (particularly the Niger Delta; the Southern Taraba State, Nigeria, particularly the Kashimbila area; Centre Region Cameroon-Mpem & Djim National Park plus surrounding and south-easterly forestry management units); and sustaining long term studies on socio-ecology at established study sites including Gashaka-Gumti National Park and the proposed Ebo National Park (Morgan et al., 2011). Other non-site specific recommendations include: supporting sanctuaries and re-introduction (increasing fines for killing, housing or trafficking in chimpanzees; discouraging zoos from housing chimpanzees; support for best practice in re-introduction); and securing sustainable long-term funding solutions (e.g., trust funds, tourism, public-private partnerships, REDD).
Coordinating chimpanzee conservation action between Nigeria and Cameroon is essential as most of the viable populations straddle the international border (Morgan et al., 2011). Importantly all recommendations in the action plan have received the endorsement of the Ministers in charge of wildlife in the Governments of both Cameroon and Nigeria.
Compiled and edited by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Bethan Morgan and Katy Gonder
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