Great Apes and Humans: Conserving Our Evolutionary Relatives
Chimpanzees in particular share 98 percent of our DNA, and so their close relationship to humans brings all sorts of ethical questions to mind, such as if they should be afforded the same rights as humans. Ape species in particular are in serious decline around the world.
Experts behind the book Great Apes and Humans: The Ethics of Coexistence delve into these hot-topic issues and our responsibility towards great apes, both in the wild and in captivity, to ensure their future survival.
"I think ultimately we share this planet with a lot of other biodiversity and we have an obligation to ensure that it can survive," Tara Stoinski, President of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, told Nature World News (NWN).
"These are some of our closest living relatives; they are linked to our evolutionary past," she continued. "They are an important charismatic species for the forests they live in, and those forests are home to incredible biodiversity that has value in and of itself, but also is really important to the survival of humans on this planet."
Factors like habitat loss, deforestation, poaching, disease and wild game consumption - commonly referred to as the bushmeat trade - are just a few factors currently affecting apes living in Asia and Africa. If these rates of decline don't change soon, great apes will be gone within the next 10 to 40 years - and that's not even considering the effects of climate change.
"If we don't stop what's happening now, for apes they'll be gone before serious effects of climate change start to take place," Stoinski said. "For the mountain gorillas, for example, that are in a very restricted range, they don't have a lot of places where they can move if their habitat changes a lot from climate change."