The plan will be finalized during a two-day conference at the Golf Hotel, Sept 12 and 13, with chimp conservation experts from Africa, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal. Cote d'Ivoire's Prime Minister Affi N'Guessan is scheduled to speak during the morning opening session Sept. 12.
The meeting is co-sponsored by the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) and the West Africa Program at Conservation International (CI), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Great Ape Survival Project, and the Primate Action Fund. It is being co-organized by CI, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, and Kyoto University. Its goal is to reach a consensus among government officials, researchers, protected area managers and private conservation groups to take specific steps to halt or reverse the decline in chimpanzee numbers in West Africa.
"We stand to lose one of the human species closest relatives, as well as a species with one of the most fascinating and complex social systems in the Animal Kingdom," said Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University, who runs one of the longest-term studies of chimpanzees in Africa.
"When I started 22 years ago to work in the Ta forest, the last hundred kilometers were through a vegetation green tunnel. Today you have to drive all the way to the national park limits to see the first patch of forest. The trend has been the same throughout West African forest regions, " said Christophe Boesch, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
Threats include agricultural development, logging and hunting for meat and for pest control, for the pet trade and historically for biomedical research.