The Endangered Species Act used to regard only chimpanzees living in their natural wild habitat as endangered species and they were protected by several rules that prevented people from harming them.
However, starting with Tuesday, June 16th, this is about to change, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This change is the result of the petition filed by Jane Goodall in 2010 and of various requests from other groups, such as the Humane Society. These prompted the government to disregard the distinction between captive chimpanzees, which were considered threatened species and wild chimpanzees who were seen as endangered species.
This legal status framing the distinction made by animals belonging to basically the same species but living in different environments has been held for more than a decade.
Therefore, the decision, which was made public on Friday by the Fish and Wildlife Service, suggests that both categories are of equal importance and should be protected by the same laws.
The new designations will change regulation regarding captive chimpanzees. Thus, a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service will be necessary for various types of medical research, as well as for interstate trade or export and import of the apes.
People who own chimps as pets or use them for entertainment are not affected by the new regulation, as they do not need to obtain special permits to own them.
According to Dan Ashe, the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the decision will prevent exploiting these animals while using them for sale, research and entertainment. That has undermined the conservation of chimpanzees in the wild,” he said.
Researchers from the medical field will probably be extremely affected by the need to obtain permits for every action that involves chimpanzees. In the past, their opposition to these apes’ inclusion in the endangered species category was the one that prevented Jane Goodall from insisting on their equal protection more. According to her statements, there was a lot of research carried out to find a treatment for HIV/AIDS.
The new regulation will impose certain restrictions on the researchers working in the labs, which currently host 730 chimpanzees. This represents more than a third of the total number of captive chimps which is 1724.
It does not necessarily come as a surprise that all the chimpanzees living in the United States will be considered endangered species, given the fact that the total number of apes has basically decimated in the previous decade. In 1900, there were about 1,000,000 chimps but now there are somewhere between 172,000 and 300,000.
This number will continue to decrease if the harmful human activity that has killed so many animals does not stop.
Image Source: forchange