Posted by Ana Smith 2/24/15
West Africa has been all over the news on 2014 because of the unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola Virus, killing thousands of human lives.
However, the human population is not the only thing that is threatened by the spread of the daily virus – but the gorilla and chimpanzee populations as well. News reports say that the virus is the single and greatest threat to the survival of the said species.
According to Meera Inglis, a PhD. holder in conservation policy at the University of Sheddield, the mortality rates of gorillas is 95% while it is 77% for chimpanzees. She also notes in her article on The Conversation that an estimated 33% of the worldwide population of gorillas and chimpanzees have been lost because of the Ebola virus since the 1990s.
Inglis also adds that while outbreaks are not as frequent, one outbreak could wipe out a significantly large number of gorillas and chimpanzees, especially if the bodies are not collected immediately.
In 1995, 90 percent of gorillas in a national park on Central Africa died because of an Ebola outbreak. In 2002 and 2003, another outbreak in Central Africa has killed almost 5,000 gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are only estimated 100,000 gorillas left out in the wild, and another outbreak could bring the species on the brink of extinction.
Inglis calls for action, as she says that both short-term and long-term solutions are needed. She mentions that vaccination programs could probably be one of the short-term solutions in stopping the spread of the deadly virus while she enumerates the enlargement and restoration of ape habitats, creating better protection from hunters as possible long-term solutions.
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