Outbreak may be killing chimps in Guinea - Reuters
December 3, 2006
Reuters quotes Pepe Soropogui, head of the chimpanzee investigation at the Bossou Environmental Research Institute, as saying their are no more than 12 West African chimpanzees in southeast Guinea, down from 30 in 2002. Apparently no one knows why they have disappeared.
"There are theories that some chimpanzees have contracted a sort of bronchitis or pneumonia probably transmitted by man, but we are not sure because chimpanzees have funeral rites and take away the bodies after death," Reuters quoted Marie Claude Gauthier of the Jane Goodall Institute for wildlife research and conservation as saying. "Nothing has been ruled out. It is a mystery," she added.
The Jane Goodall Institute is a leading primate conservation group that is especially active in West Africa. There are an estimated 8,000 chimpanzees in Guinea. Chimps are commonly hunted as bushmeat in parts of Africa and are widely threatened by habitat loss.
The forests of Guinea have been highly impacted by fires and agriculture. Today only scattered fragments of forest remain in a sea of grasslands. Some of these small sections of forest still contain emergent overstory trees, valuable for timber, which are only slowly exploited due to lack of heavy machinery. As of 2005, less than 1 percent of forest cover in Guinea was primary forest. Guinea's 100 or so endemic species, over 40 percent are considered endangered by poaching and loss of habitat. The World Resources Institute says that Guinea has some 3,000 species of plants, 640 birds, 190 mammals, 94 reptiles, and 121 fish.
** 12/24/2006 update: Liz Williamson, Coordinator for the section on Great Apes of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group (www.primate-sg.org), wrote the following: "No chimpanzees have died at Bossou since a 2003 epidemic which killed 5 individuals; all others are still there and healthy. During a recent symposium held in Guinea, we discussed how to prevent the occurrence such epidemics. Bossou chimpanzees occasionally cross the Liberia and Ivory Coast borders, but that is nothing new - we are only 4 km from Liberia and 8 km from Cote d'Ivoire."
This article use information from Reuters and past mongabay.com articles.
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