Target: Alassane Ouattara, President of the Ivory Coast
Goal: Thank the Ivory Coast government for working with conversationalists to promote chimpanzee preservation ecotourism projects
Although chimpanzees once thrived along the Ivory Coast, they have experienced a 90 percent decline in the last two decades. The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that there are only between 150,000 and 200,000 chimpanzees living in the wild, and there are only between between 8,000 and 12,000 living along the Ivory Coast. That number declines every year.
But two new government-run ecotourism projects are offering new hope for the species. This program offers three-day tours that involve forest hikes, mountain climbs, and overnight camping. Over 100 tourists have visited Tai National Park since the program launched in January, 2014. “It is important that people see they can profit from conservation,” said Christophe Boesch, Director of West Africa’s Wild Chimpanzee Foundation. “The more tourists we have, the more likely we will be able to win the battle.”
Sign the below petition to praise the efforts of chimpanzee conservation groups in the Ivory Coast for using ecotourism to save chimpanzees from extinction. Environmental degradation became even more of a problem in this region during the country’s 2010-2011 post-election violence. In addition to the region’s violent conflict, deforestation and illegal hunting continue to devastate the chimpanzee population. Although these ecotourism projects cannot save chimpanzees on their own, they can help bring awareness about the risk of extinction and contribute to a long-term solution.
Dear President Ouattara,
Thank you and the other government leaders for working with conservationists to develop ecotourism programs to bring attention to the chimpanzee extinction crisis. Over 100 people have visited Tai National Park for these tours since January, and hopefully that number will increase as the western Ivory Coast becomes safer and more stable.
As the West Africa’s Wild Chimpanzee Foundation points out, it’s important for Ivory Coast residents to see that they can benefit and profit from conservation efforts. These ecotourism projects will create jobs and encourage visitors to shop in local towns. I am urging you to continue working with wildlife experts and conservation groups to ensure that the habitats of chimpanzees are not harmed or disrupted as a result of these ecotourism efforts. When operated with respect and care, wildlife viewing programs can benefit local residents and visitors from around the world. Ecotourism alone cannot save the Ivory Coast’s chimpanzee population, but it can begin to change the attitudes that local people have about these beautiful creatures.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: USAID Africa Bureau via WikiMedia Commons