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A study recently published in Diversity and Distributions details the decline in great ape habitats across Africa and paints what is a very disturbing picture for conservationists.
Of all the great apes, gorillas are the ones losing out the most. Cross River gorillas have lost almost 60% of their habitat over the last twenty years, while Eastern gorillas have lost 52% and Western gorillas 31%. In comparison, Bonobos have suffered a 29% loss, with various subspecies of chimp losing 17% total habitat in central Africa and 11% in western Africa.
Hjalmar Kuehl from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology helped organise the vast amount of research that has been undertaken by scientists across the continent of Africa. In an interview with BBC Nature, he said that ‘several studies either on a site or country level indicated already that African ape populations are under enormous pressure and in decline.
‘Despite these expectations, it is outrageous to see how our closes living relatives and their habitats are disappearing. The situation is very dramatic; many of the ape populations we still find today will disappear in the near future. In an increasingly crowding world…apes will continue to disappear.
Volcanoes Safaris has worked at the forefront of great ape ecotourism for over 15 years. We are the only safari company to have signed the 2005 UN Kinshasa Declaration on Safeguarding the Great Apes.
For information on the work that Volcanoes Safaris does through its non-profit arm, The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) please visit their pages on our website.
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.