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by Melanie Brett, IPPL-UK

Save usIPPL-UK has joined forces with other leading conservation groups to form the Ape Alliance as a result of the great apes of Africa being under reed threat from the "bushmeat" trade.

The Ape Alliance commissioned a review of recent studies of the trade in countries with great ape populations, and collated information from 80 different reports about the situation in 9 countries in Africa. The findings showed a situation of great concern.

In February 1998 a press launch was held titled "The African Bushmeat Trade - A Recipe for Extinction," with Jane Goodall, Ian Redmond and Karl Ammann speaking to the press as representatives of the Ape Alliance.

Jane Goodall"All four species of great ape are in desperate trouble," said Jane Goodall, the world's leading authority on chimpanzees. "It is my firm belief that if action is not taken now, there will be no viable populations of great apes living in the wild within 50 years."

The trade in bushmeat has now developed into a major commercial activity and is threatening the survival of gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos (formerly known as Pygmy chimpanzees). The rapidly growing timber industry has been a major factor in encouraging the bushmeat trade.

Logging companies not only destroy ape habitat, but logging activity has opened up large areas of forest, previously impenetrable except on foot, to commercial hunters using the logging trucks to transport themselves and the bushmeat back to the markets.

The Ape Alliance is asking all retailers and consumers of timber to ensure that they only buy timber and timber products from forests which have been independently certified as environmentally responsible, for example by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Consumers can identify these products by looking for the FSC logo.

The Alliance is also seeking the independent certification of forest timber concessions of Central and West Africa by bodies such as the FSC which would ensure that wildlife and indigenous peoples are not threatened by logging.

In the meantime the Ape Alliance has asked the timber companies to adopt a "Bushmeat Code of Conduct" to end the slaughter of apes and is calling on the European Union to encourage all European timber companies operating in Africa to follow this code.

Click to become a member of Ape Alliance


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