In 1960 I began my study of chimpanzees on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in what is now Tanzania. At that time chimpanzee habitat stretched for miles, fringing the lake from Burundi to Zambia in the south. Today, the scene is very different: cultivated land crowds up to the boundaries of the park, the trees have gone, peasants are trying to grow crops on the steep rocky hillsides, causing terrible erosion, the soil is losing its fertility, the forest animals have gone, and the human population is struggling to survive.
What has caused this devastation? Wild animals (as well as livestock) are often direct casualties of war. Soldiers as well as refugees hunt wildlife for food. According to the Biodiversity Support Program, war in the DRC in 1996 and 1997 led to an escalation in poaching in one area that reduced the elephant population by half, buffalo by two-thirds, and hippo by three-quarters. Gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, already seriously endangered by the commercial bush meat trade, were also affected. Not only do land mines maim innocent humans - hundreds of animals...(Click title for more)