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.
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.
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.
Whether this book leaves you feeling deflated or empowered, it will make you consider our ethical responsibility to conserve our closest living relatives.
A searingly urgent little book.
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.
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.
Stanford persuasively argues that the continued survival of the great apes, humanity’s closest living relatives, is approaching a tipping point… 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… This is a timely call for effective action.
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.
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?
- 272 pages
- 5 x 7-1/2 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
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