June 23, 2014
On the Edge
- as seen by -Julie Larsen Maher
A female chimpanzee ambles across the treetops of her forest home in Uganda seeking a nest for the night. Her baby rides on her back like a little knapsack. She drags one leg behind—a reminder of the rusty manacle that maimed her. It is likely that her infant will suffer a similar fate.
At least half the chimpanzees in Budongo Forest, Uganda endure wounds from the wire traps of poachers. Nooses set to snare forest pigs for food are indiscriminate in their catch. Chimpanzees lose the battle with the lethal loops. They are left with twisted limbs they cannot use.
Hunting is one of the biggest threats to the survival of our close cousins, the chimpanzees, that share 98% of our DNA. These primates have been listed as endangered species for nearly four decades due to declining populations across Africa, including Uganda, where less than 5000 remain. Whether forest bycatch or intended targets, their numbers continue to plummet.