Chimp populations continue to decline in Africa. A new survey of our closest relatives in the Cote D’Ivoire found that the population fell from an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 individuals to a paltry 800 to 1,200, a decline that took place in less than twenty years.
Perhaps most troubling about this new survey is Cote d’Ivoire was supposed to be a stronghold for chimpanzees in West Africa. The report warns it is likely that similar declines have occurred in other West African nations.
Researchers point to an increase of humans in Cote d’Ivoire as the primary reason. Since 1990 the nation has seen its human population grow by 50 percent. This has lead to increases in poaching and deforestation, activities which target both chimps and their habitat.
"The habitat is gone, and all the protected areas have been invaded by people. It's not just the chimps—[there's] no animals at all," lead author Genevieve Campbell told National Geographic.
In the 1960s it was estimated that chimpanzee population in Cote d’Ivoire was 100,000 individuals.