Stolen Apes The Illicit Trade in Chimpanzee, Gorillas, Bonobos, and Orangutans

Stiles, D., Redmond, I., Cress, D., Nellermann, C., & Formo, R. (2013). Stolen Apes The Illicit Trade in Chimpanzee, Gorillas, Bonobos, and Orangutans. United Nations Environment Programme, GRID-Arendal.

In our world Great Apes are now considered, by many, to be a commodity for people to trade and sell. It is still illegal because these apes play an important roll in maintaining the ecosystem. However, due to the profit gained from buying and selling these apes the trade has shifted from being a result of conservation threats to a sophisticated, international business. “Over the past seven years, a minimum of 643 chimpanzees, 48 bonobos, 98 gorillas and 1,019 orangutans are documented to have been captured from the wild for illegal trade” (Stiles et-al. 2013, 805). Stiles et-al. claim that the habitat of the great apes is degrading at a rate of about 2-5% per year. Practices such as logging, mining and deforestation are pushing the apes out of their local environments and leaving them vulnerable to be captured, killed or simply left to die. We can see an economic hierarchy when examining the price of the apes. Authors say that a poacher usually sells a chimp for about 50-100 usd while the middleman will increase the price up to 400%.  Even though these locals are put at the most risk if they are caught, they are making the lease amount of profit compared to the (typically) westerners that act as the middlemen and transfer the animals to zoos or circuses. This is an example of how western needs and desires can fuel environmental degradation. Around the world people are willing to do about anything if they see there is a demand for it globally and an opportunity to make a profit.