Chimps To Become Extinct In the Wild Within Ten Years

By Andrea Frascione, staff writer

The Jane Goodall Institute Puts Up for Adoption Chimps Orphaned by Poachers

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (RPRN) 7/27/2009 - The Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden is a sanctuary for rescued wild and abused captive chimps in South Africa. Continuing the mission Dr. Goodall began in 1977, this twenty-five hundred acre habitat ensures the survival of those who have escaped poachers, and the well being of those who were used as entertainment in traveling circuses. Despite their healthy numbers scattered among the JGI sanctuaries across Africa and the globe, the Institute estimates the species will become extinct in as few as ten years if left to their own defenses in the jungle.

“There are no certain facts about the numbers of chimpanzees left in the wild,” Susan Slotar, Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute of South Africa, told RushPRnews, “but it is somewhere between 80,000 and 150,000…We have 31 chimpanzees at our sanctuary at the moment. There are a number of other sanctuaries in Africa, they can hold up to 150 (each).”

One simple way for concerned animal lovers to help JGI save the chimps is by adopting one for as little as $80 per year. ‘Parents’ can follow their adoptive pet’s progress by reading the habitat’s observation notes posted on-line daily.

“We are always happy to work with other organizations who have the same goals and ethics,” says Slotar, “We are members of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)… Having so many member sanctuaries that are all doing more or less the same thing, means that if one has a problem, very often another has had (it) in the past and managed to solve it.”

Chimp Eden, located in Nelspruit near Johannesburg, is also a 5 star resort where potential adoptive ‘parents’ can stay and observe their new family member in a tranquil, natural setting. For more information on the Escape to Chimp Eden television series, go to the official website.

Children of the 80s can clearly recall a time when the notion of saving our planet was all the rage. Save the Whales was the rallying cry. Made-to-order motivational Scholastic posters of whales and the view of Earth from the moon donned the walls of every educational facility, gym and pre-teen bedroom, while mysteries of the universe were explored through science-fiction films such as E.T., Star Trek and Back to the Future.

Our fascination with the unknown was demonstrated in the desire to sponsor various campaigns headed up by Greenpeace and NASA, among others, in what would become our first attempt at understanding the potential demise of our existence. Perhaps with all our present-day choices of specialized channels and websites, saving our planet and ourselves has become a thing so commonplace as whole wheat bread and soy milk that we have forgotten to keep tuned into the efforts being made by real people, toward real causes, around the globe.

Whale Wars is an intriguing, suspenseful docu-drama on the Animal Planet network about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society whose mission is to prevent harpoon vessels from targeting whales in the Pacific ocean from Vancouver to the Antarctic.

“This year (we’ve saved) 305; 500 last year and 500 the year before that,” says Paul Watson, leader and founder of this pirate-like brigade being branded ‘eco-terrorists’ by some organizations.

Using strong and at times, dangerous, tactics Watson and his crew attack ships entering sanctuaries illegally, in direct violation of the global moratorium on whaling. He justifies his harsh actions against harpooners as vigilante heroism and won’t let danger get in the way of protecting his ‘clients’. As in military offensives, he takes his job seriously, even using codes over the radio such as ‘tora, tora, tora!’ which, in Japanese, means ‘attack!’. But the animal kingdom is not lost amid the turmoil and tough exterior of this series: the Sea Shepherd’s main vessel is aptly and affectionately called the ‘Steve Irwin’.

But harpoons aren’t the whales’ only enemies: the Colossal Squid has become not only the biggest predator of whales, but also of sharks and the ocean’s eco-system as a whole. Not to be confused with the Giant Squid, the Colossal has sharp claws at the end of its tentacles and can measure up to 45 feet long – as long as a school bus! This largest-known invertebrate preys on anything in its path, whether large or small. Most scars found on whales swimming in the Pacific ocean come from Colossal Squid. One specimen caught and dissected by marine bioligists is on display in the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.

A growing number of shark populations are facing extinction as well, mostly from overfishing but also due to ‘unsustainable finning’: the practice of slicing off a shark’s valuable fins and tossing its lifeless body back to sea. To help save the ocean’s shark species from their needless imminent destruction, you can sign the on-line Ocean Conservancy petition.

An unlikely creature on the endangered species list was once known to be ‘king of the jungle’. Most lions live in eastern and southern Africa, however their numbers are rapidly declining, with an estimated 30–50 percent decrease in population over the past two decades.

The African lion population ranges between 16,000 and 45,000 living in the wild, down from early 90s estimates that ranged as high as 100,000 and even higher in the 50s with an estimate of nearly half a million. They are considered vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. By comparison, the smaller, Asiatic lion living primarily in India is virtually extinct with numbers dwindling in the low hundreds. Their last-known refuge was in the Gir Forest National Park in western India.

The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project is an initiative whose mission is to re-establish their species at the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary. This attempt to repopulate the dying species is crucial in effectively creating a strong gene pool for the last surviving members, preventing inbreeding among family members of packs, allowing the fittest to survive so that future generations of humans can appreciate this beautiful and strong, yet vulnerable, creature.

One of the primary focuses of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) since the 70s has been the Iraqi Marshlands, the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East. This former major wildlife habitat has been damaged significantly, as a direct result of dam construction and drainage operations performed by the former Iraqi regime. In addition, due to its recent war-torn climate, the area’s extensive ecological damage is considered to be one of the country’s major prolonged environmental disasters and is in desperate need of assistance.

Many commercial products are launching new campaigns to save various wildlife populations all over the world. One such familiar household name is Dawn dish soap. Dawn now serves a purpose other than ridding one’s pots and pans of unsightly grease: one dollar of every sale now goes to saving birds that are victims of oil spills. Once marketed as the brand chosen by wildlife conservationists to wash them once rescued from the afflicted bodies of water and their shores, Dawn has decided to campaign in raising funds for the International Bird Rescue Research Center and Marine Mammal Center.

The following is a touching excerpt from the JGISA’s on-line journal of chimpanzee observations. One such, rather ‘human’, observation posted July 21 reads:

“Jessica and Charles met again today. Charles was puffed up and charged into the room but calmed down when Jessica vocalized submissively. He then sat down and ate his breakfast. Jessica tried to approach him a few times but he wasn’t that interested and at one stage even shielded himself by putting his hand over his face. When the food was finished, he allowed her to approach and she gave him a friendly bite on the eyebrow. They were difficult to separate though and Charles actually ushered Jessica into his own room later on.”

If only we humans had someone observing our everyday actions, we might be better able to learn from our mistakes, as quickly as primates do. The result could very well be a happier planet for all inhabitants.

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