Chimps 90 Percent Gone in a “Final Stronghold”

West African chimpanzees have declined by 90 percent in the last 18 years in an African country that is one of the subspecies’ “final strongholds,” a new study stays.

Scientists counting the rare chimps in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) found only about 800 to 1,200 of the apes—down from about 8,000 to 12,000 in 1989-90. Before the new survey, the country had been thought to harbor about half of all West African chimps.

“We were not expecting such a drastic decrease,” said lead author Geneviève Campbell, a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

The 1989-90 survey had itself represented a significant decline from 1960s estimates of about a hundred thousand West African Chimps in Côte d’Ivoire.

(See also: “Extinction Threatens Half of Primate Types, Study Says” [August 5, 2008].)

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