Cutting Down the Family Tree

so soon after the tragic death of Snowflake, the world’s only albino gorilla,
this news story out of the AP really puts a chill into animal lovers hearts.
There are only five species of great apes in the world; gorillas, chimpanzees,
bonobos, orangutans – and us! Ok, so maybe technically we aren’t Apes,
but we’re awful close, like 96% genetically.

Human poaching, smuggling,
deforestation and regional wars are close to insuring that soon there
will only be one kind of Great Ape left on the planet – the aforementioned
us. We will all be immeasurably poorer should that happen…

"If we can’t save these species which are so close to us … do
we have very much hope with some of the other particularly threatened
species and ecosystems?” Hepworth said.

Today, there are believed to be about 400,000 great apes in Africa and
Asia, compared to many million in the 19th century, the U.N. says. Each
of the species is at “high risk” of extinction, some soon, others within
50 years, organizers said.

“The writing is very much on the wall: We have within the next 15 to
20 years to halt that decline,” said Ian Redmond, head of the technical
support team for the U.N.’s Great Apes Survival Project.


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