A new study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions predicts massive range declines of Africa’s great apes — gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos — due to the impacts of climate change, land-use changes and human population growth.
For their analysis, the authors compiled information on African ape occurrence held in the IUCN SSC A.P.E.S. database, a repository that includes a remarkable amount of information on population status, threats and conservation for several hundred sites, collected over 20 years.
The first-of-its-kind study quantifies the joint effects of climate, land-use, and human population changes across African ape ranges for the year 2050 under best- and worst-case scenarios. “Best case” implies slowly declining carbon emissions and that appropriate mitigation measures will be put in place. “Worst case” assumes that emissions continue to increase unchecked — business as usual.
Under the best-case scenario, the authors predict that great apes will lose 85 percent of their range, of which 50 percent will be outside national parks and other areas protected by legislation. Under the worst-case scenario, they predict a 94 percent loss, of which 61 percent will be in areas that are not protected. [Continue reading…]