Last stand

 作者:闫檐汲     |      日期:2019-03-08 01:09:07
By Dirk Draulans in Brussels CIVIL war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has put a stop to efforts to protect the last haven of the bonobo. The bonobo (Pan paniscus), also known as the pygmy chimpanzee, is found only in the country’s lowland forests. There are now thought to be fewer than 15 000 of the apes. Twice in the past two years, scientists from the Max Plank Institute for Behavioural Physiology in Seewiesen, Germany, and the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp in Belgium have fled their study sites in the Lomako forest, about 900 kilometres northeast of the capital Kinshasa, and plans to return are being postponed as the fighting closes in. The war has forced local people to rely increasingly on the forest for survival, and the bonobos suffer as a result of this human pressure along with other animals. The trade in bushmeat is flourishing, according to survey biologist Ellen Van Krunkelsven of the University of Antwerp. “Hunters can clear a forest of bonobos in a few years,” she says. “Along one river in a logging area I found five sites where bonobos were being smoked over a fire.” Van Krunkelsven plans to publish the results of her survey to highlight the possibility of the ape’s extinction. Before researchers pulled out of the country last October, Van Krunkelsven managed to reach Salonga National Park, south of Lomako, the only area in the world where the bonobo is—at least theoretically—protected. There she found animals being machine-gunned by poachers and army deserters. “The war makes it impossible to start supporting the park authorities,” she says. “People seem reluctant to invest even a minimum amount of money in the country.” Sally Coxe, coordinator of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative in Washington DC, wants efforts to protect the apes to be unified throughout the region. “Plans can be made now,” says Coxe,