A drought of blogs here, due to a range of other Brighter Green projects, but rain (of a sort) has returned. In fact, it has been a very rainy summer in New York, but sunny, too. A paradox, like the subject of this blog. An exhaustive foot and air survey has led scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society to conclude that nearly 125,000 western lowland gorillas are alive, and doing pretty well, in the forests of the Congo Republic. That’s about the human population of Flint, Michigan or odiferous Elizabeth, New Jersey. So used to hearing about non-human primates in small numbers, this news struck me (and many others) as extraordinary. But with the sweet comes the bitter. Forests nearly everywhere in the global south are under threat (more below) from loggers, poachers, farmers, and others. Can the gorillas’ idyll last? Watch a few minutes of video of some of them here.
Now for the bad news: another study, also recently released, says that primates are under threat of extinction as no other members of a species are. In Asia, 70% of primates are endangered. What primates around the world face: loss of habitat and loss of lives, including hunting for meat — including in places where habitat is relatively intact. “In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction,” Russell Mittermeier, chair of the IUCN primate specialist group says. A dismaying, although apt, segue to the last bit of (bad) news: the world’s forests may fall faster and further as a result of human primates’ escalating demands for food, fuel, and wood. The Rights and Resources Initiative reports that only half of the land needed by 2030 to meet these demands is available, without encroaching on tropical forests. “Arguably, we are on the verge of the last great global land grab,” RRI’s Andy White, co-author of the report, told the BBC.
Watch this space for more blogs and news soon, and Brighter Green’s about-to-be-released case study — in time for the Beijing Olympics — on China and intensifying meat production and consumption (yeah, this is a mouthful in need of a rebranding. People at work on it.)