Demand Protection for the Last Major Chimpanzee Culture

eastern chimpanzees

Target: David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Price William, Duke of Cambridge

Goal: Call on the United Kingdom to end the illegal wildlife trade, and protect threatened chimpanzee populations

In the remote jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a complex society of chimpanzees thrives – for now. The nation remains embroiled in what is known as “Africa’s deadliest war,” a conflict that has claimed millions of lives in the last two decades. International trade in illegal wildlife products, such as chimp and other bushmeat, and forest elephant ivory, have fueled both organized crime and poverty in vulnerable communities affected by the fighting.

The region’s ‘mega-culture’ of chimpanzees includes thousands or perhaps even tens of thousands of animals sharing unique customs and behaviors. Researchers believe they represent one of the last thriving, continuous populations on Earth. They live in a forest as yet untouched by human development, yet increased fighting, poaching, and the government’s struggle to enforce conservation laws are ever-present threats.

Recently, Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom hosted more than fifty world leaders for a summit on the illegal wildlife trade. Representatives from all African nations committed to attend. Western countries have more resources to commit to conservation efforts, and are often the destination for poached bushmeat. Call on the United Kingdom to to protect these last chimpanzee mega-cultures, and to uphold its commitment to end trade in illegal wildlife products.


Dear Prime Minister Cameron, and Prince William,

I commend the United Kingdom for calling together world leaders, conservation groups, and other key figures for an international summit on the illegal wildlife trade. Poaching for ivory, bushmeat, and other animal products has driven many species near extinction. By working in partnership with representatives from African nations, and following through on specific commitments to crush the illegal market, the United Kingdom can make a real difference in the conservation of threatened species.

The remote Bili-Uele forest, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is home to one of the last continuous populations of chimpanzees on Earth. The several thousand chimps living there, sharing a unique culture, are increasingly threatened by the country’s bloody civil war. In times of unrest, armed groups and desperate citizens are more likely to exploit the profitable illegal wildlife trade. It is only a matter of time before these Eastern chimpanzees come under attack themselves.

I call on the United Kingdom to follow through with specific strategies to end the trade in poached animal products, and to commit financial and political support to nations, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where illegal trade thrives on unrest. The remarkable animals that call the Congo home – including one of the last remaining ‘mega-cultures’ of chimpanzees – truly need your support to ensure their survival.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: USAID Africa Bureau via Flickr

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