Sunday, February 9, 2014

New large population of chimpanzees discovered

 ( —With great ape populations in fast decline, it is crucial to obtain a global picture of their distribution and abundance, in order to channel and direct conservation activities to where they are most needed. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands conducted hundreds of kilometers of chimpanzee surveys at multiple sites in the Central Uele region of northern Democratic Republic of the Congo and discovered a large, continuous population of Eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). The population in the remote Bili-Gangu forest was surveyed in 2005 with line transects and again in 2012, and appears to have remained stable. The total area surveyed, which encompasses about 50,000 square kilometers, is home to several thousands of chimpanzees and, according to the researchers, should be considered a priority site for conservation of the eastern subspecies.
Over the past two decades the African great apes have experienced a steep population decline, up to 90 percent in some regions. This has been a result of expanding agriculture in many African countries, as well as logging and the uncontrolled extraction of natural resources. Furthermore, chimpanzees often fall victim to poachers and are killed by human diseases. "In order to monitor chimpanzee population trends and to decide where to best allocate conservation resources, it is crucial that we develop the means to accurately map the species' distribution and make precise estimates of abundance", says Hjalmar Kuehl of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. In order to determine the chimpanzee population size in an area the researchers traverse it at regular intervals along parallel line transects. From the existing number of chimpanzee sleeping nests they can then estimate the total number of chimpanzees in this area.

Source: Here

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