Hunters slaughter chimpanzees for meat

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Jane Goodall, renowned for her study of chimpanzees, yesterday said illegal hunting is the greatest threat to the primates.

As logging companies push deeper into the forests of Africa, more animals are vulnerable to hunters who find ready markets for their meat, Ms Goodall, 64, said at a news conference.

Instead of using traditional nets, spears and snares, hunters are now using shotguns and automatic rifles. "I think the bush meat trade is probably the greatest danger in many Central and West African countries today," she said.

Hunting and the destruction of forests has reduced the chimpanzee population to 250,000, from 2 million at the turn of the century, she said.

The trade in chimpanzee and gorilla meat is extensive in Africa, despite the fact that both are protected species. Chimpanzee and gorilla are on menus in cities from Cameroon to Congo, and as far away as Paris and Brussels, according the World Wide Fund for Nature.

A recent survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Republic of Congo found meat from 19 gorillas in one market. A similar study by the International Primate Protection League estimated 400 to 600 gorillas are killed each year in the Republic of Congo.