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Planet of the naked apes

September 12, 2007

Gorillas and orangutans are among the most endangered animals on earth. If nothing is done to protect these great apes, homo sapiens might soon be the only large primate on the planet.


Every year, The World Conservation Union puts together a so-called Red List, naming species threatened with extinction. This year, the list paints a frighteningly bleak picture, as 16,306 out of 41,415 species assessed are believed to be threatened to a greater or lesser degree. According to the BBC, one in three amphibians, one in four mammals, one in eight birds and 70% of plants so far assessed are believed to be at risk of extinction.

Apes in trouble

Some of our closest cousins are listed among the most endangered species. The western lowland gorilla has been moved from the Endangered to the Critically Endangered category. The orangutan, already critically endangered on Sumatra, is facing new threats also on the great island of Borneo. Habitat loss due to deforestation is the main problem for both these magnificent apes.

Save our hairy cousins!

IUCN says that it is not too late for many of these species; that they can be brought back from the brink. Of course, this demands action. From you! If you want to help save the orangutans of Borneo, I recommend that you check out the website of Orangutan Appeal UK. This organization lets you adopt a baby orangutan, and through their Friends of the rainforest-program, you can help protect their vulnerable habitat. The Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) is a project of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) aiming to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans. Support their important work here!

As habitat loss is one of the greatest threats not only to great apes, but to endangered species everywhere, protecting wilderness is one great way to save endangered animals. Saving the rain forests does not only help threatened species, it also helps fighting global warming.

However you choose to help, your help is important. Without action, the only great apes on this planet might soon be the hairless ones.

Photo: Stine Marie Holm

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