Chimpanzees are protected in almost all African countries where they reside, both by local and international laws. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species is an international agreement between governments that ensures that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES legally binds the nations that have signed the agreement, although it does not take the place of existing national laws. By signing CITES, a country limits the import and export of these species.
Many chimpanzees are found in national parks, but have limited distribution outside those parks. There are efforts in some areas to link segregated populations to one another through the use of corridors. In Bossou, New Guinea there are efforts underway to plant trees to create a forest corridor for the chimps that would link two separate populations of currently segregated chimpanzees. In some areas of Africa, tourism has been very successful in bringing in money to the local area and encouraging conservation of the area. Uganda and Tanzania both have had success in promoting ecotourism with a visit to observe chimpanzees as the main appeal. In Uganda, gorillas and chimpanzees attract on average 20,000 visitors per year. Permits to visit gorillas (at US $500 per visit) and chimpanzees (at US $70) brought in US $4.7 million dollars in the year 2007 alone.
All of the factors contributing to the decline of chimpanzees build upon each other and ultimately create a domino effect. Dealing with one factor alone will not be enough to conserve the species. We can all do our part to help the chimpanzees in a variety of ways from simple to more complex. Here are some ways that we can all help:
- Support international and national laws governing endangered species.
- Support sustainable ecotourism in range countries.
- Recycle your cell phones, computers and other electronics.
- Be cognizant of what you leave when you travel to areas where primates live. Be respectful of any rules regarding health issues.
- Purchase sustainably logged wood products if you must purchase wood.
- Reuse, reduce, and re-cycle whenever you can.
- Support organizations working with local communities in countries with chimpanzees as well as supporting the people themselves.
- Donate to an African Sanctuary – choose a PASA (Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance) sanctuary to be assured of high standards.
- Read, learn, and share what you know about chimpanzees.
- Pay attention to your use of resources and rethink diamond and gold purchases.