Planet of NO apes?

ApesOur closest kin are under threat and urgently need our protection and care

Chinoise is an adorable baby chimpanzee at Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon, Central Africa. At this wonderful sanctuary, supported by international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation since 2004, this little orphan lives with other rescued infant chimps in the nursery. Here she is becoming part of a family again, as she would in the wild.

Sadly, Chinoise’s short life has been full of tragedy. Born in the wild in 2013, poachers killed her mother and family for meat when she was just a few weeks old. Tragically, this is all too common. Some consider chimpanzee meat a delicacy and pay a fortune for such ‘luxury food’ in cities worldwide. Tiny Chinoise was sold as a pet to a Chinese restaurant in Douala, the largest city in Cameroon.

Every year hundreds of chimps are illegally killed in Africa to supply the illegal trade in ‘bushmeat’ and ‘exotic pets’. But it’s not just the cruelty and suffering involved. The chimpanzee’s very existence is threatened. One hundred years ago Africa was home to more than 1.5 million wild chimps. Today only 170,000 remain, an 89% decline. Heading for extinction, our closest relatives are being eaten to death.

A species in crisis
And it’s not just chimpanzees. In recent years literally thousands of our gorilla cousins have been slaughtered for meat in their jungle homes, their devastated babies sold as pets. These sentient, sensitive animals live in close-knit, loving families and experience complex emotions – joy, sadness, empathy and intuition. They skilfully use tools, recall the past, and plan for the future. But do these gentle, vegetarian apes actually have a future? In 1915 there were 50,000 eastern lowland gorillas. Today? As few as 4000 (a 92% decline) and decreasing yearly. The species is just a step from extinction.

These are dark days for Africa’s apes, who share nearly 99% of their genetic blueprint with humans. The illegal trade in their meat and babies is a burgeoning, multi-million dollar business, run by highly organised, commercially driven criminal networks. Facilitated by the opening up of forests for timber extraction and mining, their rich habitats replaced with monoculture plantations.

But there is hope. Born Free supports rangers who protect wild apes in their forest homes. The charity helps apprehend poachers, bring dangerous criminals to justice and prosecute dealers trading in chimps and gorillas. Life-saving sanctuaries can rescue orphans like Chinoise and provide good food and loving care.

Africa’s chimpanzee decline
1915: 1.5 million • Today: as few as 170,000 • An 89% decline

Africa’s eastern lowland gorilla decline
1915: 50,000 • Today: as few as 4,000 • A 92% decline

Please help KQ & the Born Free Foundation to safeguard Africa’s wildlife by placing any loose change in the envelopes provided and handing to a member of the cabin crew. The money received will help us in our fight to ensure a future for Africa’s wildlife. Thank you! www.bornfree.org.uk/about-us/born-free-kenya/