Uganda is to benefit from global efforts to protect the great apes from extinction. More than $25m is needed globally to save human's living closest relatives, a press release from the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) has said.
The appeal was made at an international crisis meeting on great apes at the United Nations educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris, France last week.
It was observed that the fund is essential for reducing the risk of extinction to the world's remaining gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans, and for establishing areas where ape populations could stabilise or even increase.
Uganda harbours more than half of world's endangered mountain gorillas, which are estimated at 670 and about 5,000 chimpanzees, according to recent wildlife reports.
â€œ$25million is the bare minimum we need, the equivalent of providing a dying man with bread and water," said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director. â€œThe clock is standing at one minute to midnight for the great apes, animals that share more than 96% of their DNA with humans. If we lose any great ape species we will be destroying a bridge to our own origins, and with it part of our own humanity," he said.
â€œGreat apes form a unique bridge to the natural world," said Koichiro Matsuura, the UNESCO Director General. â€œThe forests they inhabit are vital resource for humans everywhere, and for local people in particular a key source of food, water medicine as well as a place for spiritual, cultural and economic value. Saving the great apes and the ecosystems they inhabit is also key action against poverty," he said.
Everyone of the great ape species is at risk of extinction, either the immediate future or at best within 50 years, the UNP release said.
â€œResearch indicates that the western chimpanzee has already disappeared in three countries- Benin, the Gambia and Togo," said Sammy Mankoto, a UNESCO expert on a biosphere reserves in Africa.
Other countries where the fate of the western chimpanzees hangs in balance include Ghana and Guinea Bissau.
UNESCO to protect great apes extinction