Thursday, 6 October 2016

New data shows 'staggering' extent of great ape trade

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, Johannesburg 

A new database suggests say there has been a dramatic under-reporting of the live, illegal trade in great apes. 

Around 1,800 orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas were seized in 23 different countries since 2005, the figures show.

Since 90% of the cases were within national borders they didn't appear in major data records, which only contain international seizures.

The new database has been published at the Cites meeting here in Johannesburg.

Records incomplete
Comprehensive data on the illicit trade in great apes is rare. 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) only keeps records of international seizures, which experts in the field have long believed was giving a misleading impression.

The new Apes Seizures Database paints a more detailed picture, compiling figures for any seizure of a great ape in an unlawful situation dating back to 2005.

"It's definitely a staggering number, it's larger than we expected," said Doug Cress from the Great Ape Survival Partnership, who have put together the new database.

"We're finding that it's really averaging about two seizures a week around the world. That may seem small but the usual ratio for a chimpanzee is that to get one alive you've had to kill five or 10, for gorillas it's like four to one.

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