15 September (WNN) — Roads have far-reaching effects on chimpanzees across West Africa, not only displacing them, but significantly reducing their numbers.
The negative impact of a major roadway on chimpanzee populations could extend up to 10 miles, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Conservation Letters.
The human population in West Africa is increasing rapidly, and in line with infrastructure projects, the western chimpanzee’s range is becoming fragmented. Less than 5% is free from “road impact zones”.
“Western chimpanzees were once widespread throughout West Africa, but the species has declined by 80% over the past 20 years and is currently classified as critically endangered,” study lead author Balint Andrassi said in a press release. Has been done.”
“The human population in West Africa is growing rapidly, and chimpanzees are facing increasing pressure from the expansion of settlements and infrastructure,” said Andrassi, a conservation scientist and doctoral student at the University of Exeter in the UK.
For the study, researchers used data from previous chimpanzee population surveys to model and map species distributions and densities in Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
The researchers then overlaid road data from eight West African countries and used “ecological threshold analysis” to identify the extent of the road’s impact on chimpanzee numbers.
The analysis confirmed what previous studies had shown: that roads reduce chimpanzee numbers. According to the new study, about 10 miles away from major roads and four miles from minor roads, chimpanzee density peaks and begins to decrease.
While the roads themselves are dangerous for all kinds of animals, including chimpanzees, the activities they bring are even more dangerous than a speeding vehicle.
“When the roads are visible, do all kinds of human activities,” Andrasi said.
Roads open up chimpanzee habitats to mining, logging, agriculture and other ecologically destructive activities.
Because regulations in many West African countries require consideration of the ecological impacts of infrastructure projects before they can break ground, the researchers said they hope their work will inspire more thorough and informed environmental review processes – and, perhaps, Strong protection for chimpanzees.
“We hope that these findings reflect the real cost of infrastructure development on the critically endangered western chimpanzee with more thorough consideration by policymakers,” said study co-author Kimberly Hawkings.
Hawkings, a researcher at the Exeter Center for Ecology and Conservation, said, “Our great ape cousins face many threats from habitat change to hunting to disease. The impact of infrastructure development is far greater than I anticipated and Really worrying.”