Newswise – New research has shown that roads have a negative effect on chimpanzee population. This impact can go beyond 17 kilometers.
A team from the University of Exeter studied the effects of major and minor roads in eight African countries on wild western Chimpanzee populations.
The impacts were as follows: 17.2km (10.7miles) from major roads and 5.4km (3.4 miles) away from minor roads. The Chimpanzee density consistently drops from these areas to the lowest values at the roads.
It is difficult to determine the situation in unaffected areas, as less than five percent of the western chimpanzees live outside of the “road-effect zone” defined in the study.
The paper was published in the journal Conservation letters ,. It also featured the work of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Concordia University in Montreal (Canada).
“Western chimpanzees were once widespread across West Africa, but the species has declined by 80% in the last 20 years and is currently classified as critically endangered,” said Balint Andrasi, who led the study as part of a masters in Conservation Science and Policy at Exeter.
” The human population is increasing rapidly in West Africa, and the infrastructure expansion and growth of settlements are putting pressure on chimpanzees. Previous research has shown that roads can reduce the number of western chimpanzees, and not just displacing them.
” Only 4.3% of their range is affected by roads. They don’t have any other options and migration over long distances in general is rare.
“Western Chimpanzees are territorial and could be in conflict with other groups if they try to move. “
Although the study didn’t directly examine the causes of chimpanzee population declines, the researchers suggested several possibilities.
In addition to direct impacts such as noise and roadkill, roads can also open up areas for industries like mining and agriculture that often reduce or eliminate forest habitats.
Roads may also limit chimpanzee movement, distorting populations, and leading to genetic isolation.
Hunting remains a threat to western Chimpanzees. Roads make it easier for hunters to access the area.
“All human activities are affected by roads,” Andrasi stated.
Regulations across many countries require that wildlife be considered before roads are constructed. However, the extent of the potential impact on chimpanzees has not been determined. The researchers hope that their findings will lead to more effective guidelines for reducing road impacts.
“This is the first time this analytical approach has been used to understand the impact of roads on nonhuman primates, and the results are shocking,” said Dr Kimberley Hockings, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
” We hope that these findings will allow policymakers to fully consider the true cost of infrastructure development for the critically endangered western Chimpanzee.
” Our great ape relatives face many threats, including habitat change, hunting and disease.
” The impact of infrastructure development has a far greater impact than I anticipated, and it is really worrying.
“But, we cannot give up. We must do all we can to ensure that they continue to survive. It is impossible to imagine a world in which humans are the only great primates left. “
The study combined data about western chimpanzee densities with road routes through the range that the species inhabits, which includes Ivory Coast and Liberia, Mali. Senegal, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.
The paper is entitled “Quantifying road-effect zones for critically endangered primates.” “
The University of Exeter launched the ‘Green Futures campaign and website to encourage action on climate change and the environment. To find out more please visit https://greenfutures.exeter.ac.uk
For more dWeb.News Research News: https://dweb.news/category/research/