A global wildlife group on Sunday warned of rapid reduction of chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orang-utans due to thriving illegal trade, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) said a total of 38 great apes or an average of 1.8 per week have been confiscated in 2014, double the previous year’s figure of 0.9 per week.
“The number of apes being trafficked and confiscated indicates that serious threats remain to this wild populations,” GRASP coordinator Doug Cress said in a statement issued ahead of the 1st United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to be held from June 23 to 27 in Nairobi.
Law enforcement experts indicate that only a fraction of any wildlife contraband is ever confiscated.
Cress said GRASP and its partners were in the process of building a great apes illegal trade database to track illicit traffic.
All great apes are classified as endangered or critically endangered and are listed as Appendix I by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Unlike wildlife contraband such as elephant ivory or rhino horn, the overwhelming majority of great ape confiscations occur within national borders, and only 5% of confiscations in 2013 and 2014 crossed international borders.
Cress said due to the social nature of great apes, a single confiscated ape could represent many more that died during the actual hunt or succumbed to injuries, illness or mistreatment while in captivity.
GRASP is a alliance of 95 national governments, research institutions, conservation organisations, UN agencies and private companies committed to ensuring the long-term survival of great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia.