Wildlife & Biodiversity

Great Apes will lose 90% of their homelands in Africa in the coming decades

Scientists say the key action to avert losses is ensuring connectivity between ape habitats and by creating new protected areas

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 09 June 2021

Great Apes will lose 90 per cent of their homelands in Africa in the coming decades, according to a study. The climate crisis, habitat destruction and human population growth will decimate their ranges by 2050, the study says. Half of the projected lost territory will be in national parks and other protected areas.

This study has been published in the journal Diversity and Distributions and it was conducted by scientists from almost 50 different institutions and conservation organisations. The analysis used data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ape database for hundreds of sites over 20 years.

The team analysed two scenarios, one where action is taken to curb the climate crisis, habitat loss and human population growth or one where little is done to combat the crisis. The researchers found relatively little difference in the projected range losses, with 85 per cent loss in 2050 in the first scenario and 94 per cent in the second.

Most Great Ape species prefer lowland habitats, but the climate crisis will make some lowlands much less suitable. Though some new areas will become climatically suitable for the apes, researchers doubt they will be able to migrate into these regions in time. Scientists say the key action to avert losses is ensuring connectivity between ape habitats and by creating new protected areas. All gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos are already endangered or critically endangered.

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