Massive population growth, animal smuggling, and environmental abuse in the Third World is driving many primates to near extinction, a new United Nations report has revealed.
According to the report, chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos are disappearing from the wild in dramatically increased numbers, as private owners in Asia and Middle Eastern countries pay large amounts of money for them.
Zoos, amusement parks, and travelling circuses—particularly in China and Indo-China—are a large revenue source for the animal smugglers as well.
According to the report, more than 3,000 great apes are traded illegally every year out of Africa, and more than half of that number are chimpanzees.
The report points out—as diplomatically as possible—that the African states are so corrupt and ineffectual that they are unable to stop organized criminal gangs from engaging in the trade.
Apes are captured in their remaining heartlands in central and western Africa and transported by aircraft to the Middle East and Asia.
According to the report, demand for the primates is high in countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon, where many are acquired to display as trophy curiosities in private gardens and menageries.
In Asia, the report says, there is a larger demand for the animals in public zoos and amusement parks, particularly in China which has a well-established track record of mistreating animals in those institutions. Most smuggled gorillas and chimpanzees end up in China.
In both Thailand and Cambodia, observers have reported orangutans being used for entertainment in “clumsy boxing matches,” the UN report continued.
The report said that “lax enforcement and corruption” make it easy to smuggle the animals through African cities like Nairobi, Kenya, and Khartoum, Sudan, which are trafficking hubs.
The report adds that arrests are rare “because authorities in Africa, where most great apes originate, do not have the policing resources to cope with the criminal poaching networks.
“Corruption is rampant and those in authority sometimes are among those dealing in the illegal trade. Between 2005 and 2011, only 27 arrests were made in Africa and Asia.”
In addition, explosive African population growth, fueled largely by white liberal foreign aid, has encroached upon the primates’ natural habitats.
The orangutan is the only great ape found in Asia, and Bangkok, the Thai capital, is a major hub for the trade in that primate.
One species, the Sumatran orangutan, is critically endangered, with its population having dropped by 80 percent over the last 75 years.
The report estimates that nearly all of the orangutans’ natural habitat will be disturbed or destroyed by the year 2030.
“There are no wild spaces left for them,” said Douglas Cress, a co-author of the report and head of a UN sponsored program that works for the survival of great apes. “There’ll be nothing left at this rate. It’s down to the bone. If it disappears, they go, too.”