From: Associated Press
Published July 28, 2005 12:00 AM

Conservationists Seek to Protect Apes

VIENNA, Austria — The Austrian branch of an international conservation group on Wednesday said it was launching a campaign to educate Austrian tourists about how bringing home souvenirs made from parts of dead apes, such as scalps, could contribute to the extinction of some species.


Despite years of efforts by governments and conservation groups, Africa's apes still face a bleak future, and conservationists estimate that at least one-third of the world's ape species face extinction.


The primates are hunted for meat and captured to be sold as pets, suffer from habitat loss and diseases such as Ebola virus. Many scientists predict that some species could be extinct in 20 to 50 years, according to a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature released earlier this year.


Apes are also killed and some of their body parts are used to make trinkets and decorations, and the Austrian branch of the World Wildlife Fund aims to educate Austrian tourists about how buying such items could contribute to the extinction of some species.


"Summer is the best season for tourism and that's why we are launching the project now. Austrians should be aware of what the souvenirs they are bringing back home are made," said Lydia Matzka, a spokeswoman for the group. The campaign is being financed by the Austrian government.


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Many of the tourists go to Africa where they buy ape scalps or decorations made from ape skins.


"A big threat comes from the trade with apes in the United States and countries from the European Union," said Jutta Jahrl, an expert at the Austrian branch of the WWF.


Source: Associated Press


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