Map of chimpanzee presence in Liberia
Which would you like first, the good news or the bad news? Let’s get the nastiness out of the way first and save the best for last.
Usually when we read about Liberia in West Africa it’s about civil war, economic crises or disease as with the recent recurrence of the deadly Ebola virus. Liberia experienced two civil wars within a 20-year period, one in the 80’s and the other as recently as 2003 and 2004. These civil wars have left the country poor and, as described in this project, ecologically destroyed.
Currently only 3.9% of Liberia’s forests are protected. With the heavy economic necessities the country faces it has decided most recently to go gung ho on the exploitation of mineral extraction and forestry. See the map included showing the proposed development projects. The ban on timber exports was repealed in 2006 and since then over 20,000 square kilometers of forest have already been assigned as forestry concessions and awarded to international and local investors.
Sounds pretty bad, eh? But the good news…an international team of researchers from the Max Planke Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany has just finished “counting” all of the chimpanzees and other large mammals in the country and found something amazing…Liberia has the second largest population of West African chimpanzees after Guinea. The census revealed that 7000 chimpanzees make Liberia their home and only 30% of them live within the protected forest areas.
The inventory gives weight to preserving and increasing protected areas and consideration for future projects by calling attention to this large group of chimps. The researchers feel they have done a great service to the chimpanzees and other mammals that are struggling to survive in this war torn country.
Because of you we have a good start and can finish the funding of this educational reforestation project. This particular project has the potential to uplift a country, its people and environment to its previous levels and higher. Who knows, with that kind of change the chimp populations could increase even more, so come on everyone…
LET’S GET PLANTING!
The challenges the Max Planke Institute faced...