01 December 2016

Earlier this year the IUCN congress caused ripples through the conservation world with announcements of the re-categorisation of hundreds of threatened species on the IUCN Red List.

Severely affected in recent years are our closest relatives, the great apes, with the IUCN recognising that all six species are under serious threat of extinction. Four of the six ape species are now classed as critically endangered which is just one step away from extinction in the wild.

The most recent re-classifications are:

Bornean orangutan

Following an assessment led by Marc Ancrenaz, scientific director at HUTAN (our project partners in Borneo), it was discovered that Bornean orangutans are one step closer to extinction in the wild.

We’ve been working with HUTAN to protect this species for over 10 years and will continue to fight to save it before we lose it forever. Orangutans are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction for agricultural land; mainly for the cultivation of palm oil.

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Bornean orangutan in tree in the wild

Grauer’s gorilla

The Grauer’s gorilla population has seen a catastrophic decline; the species has seen a staggering 77% decline in less than two decades due to illegal hunting for bush-meat associated with unregulated mining in remote rainforests.

Chester Zoo’s Africa field programme coordinator has worked extensively with Grauer’s gorilla and spent 11 years conducting significant research into the ecology of the species which has been used to classify it as one of the most endangered primates in the world. Read more about Stuart’s research, and that of other collaborating partners, here.

 

Western chimpanzee

The Western chimpanzee is a subspecies of chimpanzee and the same species we have at the zoo. Chester Zoo’s troop contributes to a successful international breeding program. This is the first ever chimpanzee subspecies to join the list of critically endangered great apes, making our group even more important. In the wild, these chimpanzees are under huge threats from bush-meat hunting as well as extensive and increasing habitat loss and fragmentation.

westernchimp-small-1

All other chimpanzee subspecies are facing similar threats, are listed as endangered by the IUCN including the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, which we’re working to protect the in Nigeria. Over the years, we have been conducting research in Gashaka Gumti National Park, Nigeria, monitoring and protecting the chimpanzees in Nigeria to ensure this species doesn’t have the same fate as the Western chimpanzee which is edging dangerously close to extinction in the wild.

Despite all of the above reclassifications, there were several good news stories reported at the IUCN congress, including the down-listing of the giant panda from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ as a result of a significant population increase.

That’s why we must continue to Act for Wildlife. But to do so, we need your help.