Rare Chance for the Rarest Chimp

June 30, 2011

WCS conservationists and their partners announce a plan to protect the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee. Restricted to pockets of forest within the two countries, the subspecies is the world’s rarest chimp.

Only small pockets of forest habitat exist in the nations of Cameroon and Nigeria for the world’s rarest chimpanzee. The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee’s numbers are low and its threats are high. Until now, its prospects were slim.

Government officials, WCS conservationists, and scientists from 17 organizations have come together to give this chimp a better chance. What’s it going to take? A region-wide plan for enhanced collaboration and law enforcement along the border area, increased recruitment and training for wildlife rangers, more conservation research, and improved partnerships with and sustainable livelihood opportunities for local people.

“This plan is a roadmap to the future of the critically endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee,” said James Deutsch, Director of WCS Africa Programs. “We commend the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon for their leadership in pledging to save this living example of their natural heritage.”

Numbers for the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee in the wild fall somewhere between 3,500 and 9,000. With such a few-and-far-between existence, it’s little wonder the chimp was just recently identified as its own subspecies in 1997. The primates also face heavy hunting and tend to flee when they encounter humans. The $14.6 million strategy to ensure its future could protect more than 95 percent of the remaining individuals over the next five years.  

The chimps’ neighbors will benefit, too. Other emblematic wildlife in the area include critically-endangered Cross River gorillas, drills, Preuss’s monkeys and Preuss’s red colobus.

For more information, see the press release.

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