“Monkey See, Monkey Dead?” - The Chimpanzee on the Edge of Extinction

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Why are chimps endangered? How many among us are even aware that they are? To the uninformed, it almost seems hard to believe. Chimpanzees have long been the most visible and perhaps even the most well-known of all the primates. Surely these adorable members of the ape species must be under some protection! And yet, as familiar as these creatures are to us, the fact remains that their numbers are dwindling as their days appear to be numbered.

That grim notion may sound somewhat exaggerated; if only it were so. There are in fact a number of reasons for why are chimps endangered. Among these is the destruction of their natural habitat. In Africa, whole forests have been cleared to make way for roads and buildings, and to provide logs for industrial use; the march of progress comes at the cost of the chimpanzees' home. Whereas the number of chimps that lived in Africa once exceeded a million, today they number at more or less 200,000. And to think that this drop in the chimpanzee population started as far back as 1960; this is a problem that has been going on for a very long time.

The second factor that threatens the existence of the chimpanzee is fueled by people's fascination towards them. We think chimpanzees are so cute and cuddly, so naturally many of us would like to keep them as pets. And so, chimps are illegally captured and taken out of their jungle habitat in order to be sold for human amusement. Just imagine, a child barely five years of age is pulled out from its natural environment and forced to live out the rest of its life in a cage. That's what a baby chimp in illegal captivity goes through. The next time a cute, funny monkey appears on a TV show or a movie, think about where it might have come from.

This third cause for why are chimps endangered is clearly the most appalling of them all. Believe it or not, there are those who would slaughter chimpanzees for their meat. There are actually people who have an appetite for chimpanzee meat, and would pay large sums of money to satisfy their cravings. This is a lucrative business, and no less than 4,000 of the poor creatures are killed every year in order to make a profit and to serve an exotic dish.

Why are chimps endangered? Because we drove them to be so. It is basically human ignorance that has put the survival of the chimpanzee at peril, and so we must not feign ignorance to the crisis plaguing them; a crisis we have in fact wrought upon them. These remarkable creatures have so much in common with human beings; if anything, this should remind us how everything in nature is connected. As such, we should not turn our backs on the chimpanzee and should instead be sensitive to its unfortunate plight.

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