Exciting news were released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the inclusion of all chimpanzees under the endangered status.
The announcement from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service came on Friday. A similar piece of legislation was set on the table in 2013, but it didn’t see the same resounding success as this one. In 2010, another petition was forwarded to U.S. legislators.
This petition was initiated by Jane Goodall as well as the Humane Society and other activist groups and it asked that the distinction between threatened and endangered be erased.
Five years later the initiative clearly succeeded as under the Endangered Species Act, all chimpanzees, either in captivity or in the wild have the same status, that of an endangered species.
The move was prompted by the realization that offering the captivity held chimpanzees the status of threatened, which limited their protection in comparison with being endangered, did little to save either category from being exploited and the number of chimpanzees from decreasing.
Now, the captivity chimpanzees will have the same protection as their wild peers. Of course, they have become part and parcel of some sectors such as medical research, export and import of pets, interstate trade. For all of these, drastically regulated permits will be required in order to continue using chimpanzees.
Still, there are some drawbacks of the hailed regulation. According to Dan Ashe from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, people who own a pet chimpanzee aren’t required to hold the same permit mentioned above. Nor does the entertainment industry.
At the same time he added that:
“At the time we thought it was important to encourage breeding of captive chimps to expand their numbers. But we expanded a culture of treating these animals as a commodity for research, sale, import and export, and entertainment. That has undermined the conservation of chimpanzees in the wild.”
During the 1990s the number of chimpanzees was recorded at approximately one million. Due to habitat loss, rampant deforestation, the irresponsible poaching, their numbers severely decreased. Today, the world population of chimpanzees counts between 172,000 and 300,000 individuals according to the Jane Goodall Institute.
Yet, another problem that chimpanzees might be facing is that the lack of funding so far has led to overpopulation of existing sanctuaries. Save the Chimps and Chimp Haven are the two main U.S. chimpanzee sanctuaries. At the moment both are hosting chimpanzees at full capacity.
With the new legislation new funding might be made available from taxes and direct investments coming from the sectors that need to obtain a permit for holding chimpanzees and need to pledge investment in the growth of chimpanzee population on the long run.
Image Source: Jane Goodall