Planet Without Apes

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Overview

Planet Without Apes demands that we consider whether we can live with the consequences of wiping our closest relatives off the face of the Earth. Leading primatologist Craig Stanford warns that extinction of the great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans—threatens to become a reality within just a few human generations. We are on the verge of losing the last links to our evolutionary past, and to all the biological knowledge about ourselves that would die along with them. The crisis we face is ...

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Planet Without Apes

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Overview

Planet Without Apes demands that we consider whether we can live with the consequences of wiping our closest relatives off the face of the Earth. Leading primatologist Craig Stanford warns that extinction of the great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans—threatens to become a reality within just a few human generations. We are on the verge of losing the last links to our evolutionary past, and to all the biological knowledge about ourselves that would die along with them. The crisis we face is tantamount to standing aside while our last extended family members vanish from the planet.

Stanford sees great apes as not only intelligent but also possessed of a culture: both toolmakers and social beings capable of passing cultural knowledge down through generations. Compelled by his field research to take up the cause of conservation, he is unequivocal about where responsibility for extinction of these species lies. Our extermination campaign against the great apes has been as brutal as the genocide we have long practiced on one another. Stanford shows how complicity is shared by people far removed from apes’ shrinking habitats. We learn about extinction’s complex links with cell phones, European meat eaters, and ecotourism, along with the effects of Ebola virus, poverty, and political instability.

Even the most environmentally concerned observers are unaware of many specific threats faced by great apes. Stanford fills us in, and then tells us how we can redirect the course of an otherwise bleak future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Stanford, co-director of the Jane Goodall Research Center at the University of Southern California, persuasively argues that the continued survival of the great apes, humanity's closest living relatives, is approaching a tipping point. "Great apes have the deck stacked against them," he writes: for them to survive, there must be swift and "fundamental changes in how we view land use and the ethics of captive animals." Stanford begins by demonstrating why gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos merit priority, given their similarities to humans in such areas intelligence, culture, and tool-making. A pragmatist, the author observes that limited resources are probably best employed in securing tropical forests where generations of apes can live on, rather than creating sanctuaries for orphans. He also notes that the "ape-holding nations of the developing world should be expected to allow" wildlife, including apes, to become extinct in the absence of an "economically compelling path to preserving them."This is a timely call for effective action. Agent: Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Booklist

Humans' closest relatives, the great apes, have been almost exterminated, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. In his straightforwardly written call to save our next-of-kin, noted primatologist Stanford examines the myriad challenges nonhuman primates face today.
— Nancy Bent

Jane Goodall
Craig Stanford's book makes compelling reading. In the past fifty years we have learned so much about our closest relatives the great apes. They have helped us better understand our own behavior. Now it is our turn to help them, and when you read this book, you will realize that we MUST.
Roger Fouts
Craig Stanford's new book appears at a turning point: will we take active steps to save our ape sibling species or accept certain disgrace in the eyes of coming generations?
Booklist - Nancy Bent
Humans' closest relatives, the great apes, have been almost exterminated, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. In his straightforwardly written call to save our next-of-kin, noted primatologist Stanford examines the myriad challenges nonhuman primates face today.
Times Higher Education - Kimberley J. Hockings
Whether this book leaves you feeling deflated or empowered, it will make you consider our ethical responsibility to conserve our closest living relatives.
Nature
Will electronic gadgetry bring down the great apes? The link may seem surreal, but in this study of the plight of gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos, primatologist Craig Stanford reveals how mining coltan, a mineral used in electronics, destroys primate habitats and fuels the illegal bush meat trade. In his wide-ranging call for action, Stanford--co-director of the Jane Goodall Research Center in Los Angeles, California--lays out the critical threats, arguing that humanity's closest cousins are viewed as savage 'others' and subjected to a genocidal urge last seen in the colonial era.
Washington Post - Sarah Halzack
Stanford examines the threats to apes' survival and explores approaches to reversing or at least neutralizing those pressures. He reveals a complex web of cultural, social, economic and biological issues that explain why this problem is so exceedingly difficult to solve.
Choice - J. Nabe
With passion and clarity, Stanford describes the nature and extent of the threats from habitat loss, hunting for meat, diseases (including those transmitted from humans), and ecotourism...It takes an experienced primatologist like Stanford to convey the true scope of the threats [apes] face and the importance of their continued existence.
Open Letters Monthly - Steve Donoghue
A searingly urgent little book.
Nature
Will electronic gadgetry bring down the great apes? The link may seem surreal, but in this study of the plight of gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos, primatologist Craig Stanford reveals how mining coltan, a mineral used in electronics, destroys primate habitats and fuels the illegal bush meat trade. In his wide-ranging call for action, Stanford--co-director of the Jane Goodall Research Center in Los Angeles, California--lays out the critical threats, arguing that humanity's closest cousins are viewed as savage 'others' and subjected to a genocidal urge last seen in the colonial era.
Library Journal
Anyone looking for a single book summarizing the current status of great apes and their prospects for survival in the coming decades need look no further than this short but heartbreaking title. Chimpanzee expert Stanford (codirector, Jane Goodall Research Ctr.; biology & anthropology, Univ. of Southern California; The Last Tortoise: A Tale of Extinction in Our Lifetime) paints a brutally honest picture of the numerous factors driving all the great ape species into extinction, particularly the accelerated rate of habitat loss in Africa and Indonesia. This catastrophic threat, plus other serious pressures, has produced an almost unstoppable momentum of eradication. Stanford convincingly demonstrates that this human-caused extinction crisis is due to a decades-long campaign of extermination in which chimps, gorillas, and orangutans have been sacrificed for agricultural development (e.g., palm oil plantations) and natural resource extraction (e.g., timber). VERDICT Stanford has brilliantly distilled scientific research, African and Asian economic issues, and ethical concerns surrounding the exploitation of these intelligent, highly social creatures into a powerful plea for primate protection. The breadth and depth of this superb work makes it an excellent choice for all readers interested in science and natural history.—Cynthia Knight, formerly with Hunterdon Cty. Lib., Flemington, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674067042
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/5/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 843,585
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 3.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig B. Stanford is Professor of Biological Sciences and Anthropology and Co-Director of the Jane Goodall Research Center at the University of Southern California.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: Homeless


The Elephant in the Room


The hike from the pebbly lakeshore to the top of the ridge takes a bit over an hour. It would be shorter than that—it’s only a few miles—but the trail is steep and the day is hot, the dry season sky tinged brown with dust. Tiny waves slap the beach of the great blue lake, and a hundred feet from the water’s edge a trail dives into the forest. You leave the brain-poaching equatorial sun and enter a bower of thickets, gurgling streams and fruit trees. Contrary to your image of a tropical forest, there are few towering majestic trees. Along the streams the trees are large and densely grown; anywhere away from water the canopy is low, often broken, with patches of grassy clearings. There are lizards and safari ants underfoot. Coppersmiths call all around, their songs a metallic anvil-clink. The distant sound of chimpanzee pant-hoots comes faintly every so often on the afternoon breeze. The trail doesn’t meander much at all. It climbs the hill slope like a mall escalator. Past the thickets of the lower hill slopes, the trail crosses a few rocky viewpoints and climbs a bare patch of grass to a stand of gnarled fruit trees. From here it re-enters the forest and passes steeply up through pleasant glades. Dead leaves and pebbles scatter at every step. Finally the trail breaks out into the open and climbs a bit further to a perpendicular ridge that parallels the lakeshore far below. This is the rift.

We’ve walked three and a half miles and gained twenty-four hundred feet of elevation, arriving at the highest point in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Everything lying before me is the home of the wild chimpanzees made famous by the work of Jane Goodall. This is the most hallowed piece of real estate in the annals of animal behavior research. The rift soars above the forest and lake, and eagles soar above the rift. This is technically a part of the edge of the great rift valley of East Africa, and the enormous body of water—Lake Tanganyika—is an ancient rain-filled crack in the Earth, a jewel in the crown of lakes that stretch up and down the western edge of the Great Rift Valley. The point I’ve reached on the rift offers a three hundred sixty degree vantage point. Looking westward is a bowl of a valley, bisected by east-west ridges that lead to other valleys. Far below the beach is dotted with tiny houses and a soccer field cleared from the brush. The lake, with traditional wooden pirogues carrying local fishermen, stretches off into the haze. In the wet season, the sky is clear to the far shore, which is the eastern edge of the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo.

I turn around and look in the other direction, eastward away from the lake. The dusty air blankets rolling green hills and khaki plains. Everywhere there are trees; nowhere is there forest. Villages, towns, and shambas—small-scale farms—extend to the horizon in all directions except the one behind my back. Gombe is surrounded. Goodall and the Tanzanian national park service had the chance to expand Gombe decades ago, but neither she nor anyone else in those days could foresee how quickly the forest would be gobbled up, leaving Gombe an island hemmed in by the spread of farms and villages. The national park is ten miles by three and a half miles. Compared to the vastness of forests in the Congo Basin or elsewhere, Gombe is miniscule, a tiny gem packed with a priceless gene pool. Its small size has everyone connected to the place worried about its future and that of the chimpanzees.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Save the Apes! 1

1 Heart of Darkness 8

2 Homeless 37

3 Bushmeat 73

4 Outbreak 103

5 In a Not-So-Gilded Cage 128

6 The Double-Edged Sword of Ecotourism 159

7 Ethnocide 191

Epilogue: May There Always Be Apes 222

Notes 231

Further Reading 241

Acknowledgments 247

Index 252

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Grra E Great

    Great book

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