Chimpanzees, our close relatives, play a vital role in maintaing the diversity of Central Africa's forests. The large seeds they eat and disperse are too big for most other animals. Without them, and their fellow great apes and elephants, these forests would be irreversibly changed. Yet today, all four chimpanzee subspecies are endangered.
The main threats to chimpanzees are habitat loss, disease, and hunting, especially for bushmeat. These are exacerbated by chimps' slow reproductive rate—if an adult is killed, it takes 14-15 years to replace him or her as a breeding individual.
Chimpanzees are vulnerable to more than 140 human diseases. As the number of people grows in and around their habitat, chimps are more likely to fall victim to illness.
With our partners, range state governments, and local communities, we strive to maximize our impact to protect chimps.
We do this by, among other things:
Working with other NGOs and national governments to develop IUCN Action Plans.
Improving wildlife protection by working directly with protected area authorities and their game guards.
Developing environmental education programs to inform both children and adults about chimpanzees' vulnerability to hunting.
To combat habitat loss, working with national governments and with logging concessions to improve land use planning.
Among chimps and other great apes, the Ebola virus can have a devastating effect—the mortality rate is around 95%. Between 1994 and 2005, a series of outbreaks killed thousands.
To monitor Ebola in the Republic of Congo, WCS set up a vast surveillance network with locals. We've also created a lab in the capital, where rapid processing of samples can be done, greatly reducing the time between collection and diagnosis.
Of the four chimpanzee subspecies, WCS works directly on three.