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The human-ape interface in an unprotected Cameroonian forest
Dr Alison Wade, University of Auckland
The Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) are two relatively unknown ape taxa with critically low population estimates. Since the ‘rediscovery’ of the Cross River gorilla and the subspecies reclassification of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee during the 1990s, these apes and the people who reside alongside them have been the subject of ‘crisis’ conservation narratives. Within these narratives, the activities of local people are viewed as the largest threat to these endangered apes. Here, I present a revised narrative of the human-ape interface in an unprotected Cameroonian forest. Through the lens of cacao, I move beyond problematising the local to illustrate the human-ape interface as a combination of social, political, and ecological systems. I propose that if conservation programs acknowledge the importance of cacao and incorporate the variety of knowledge about cacao farming, there is the potential to foster positive relationships with the communities who reside alongside the apes furthering conservation efforts in the region.
About the speaker
Alison recently graduated from the University of Auckland with her PhD in biological anthropology. She is interested in the outcomes of interrelationships between nonhuman primates and humans. Her PhD research focused on these interrelationships among the Cross River gorillas, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees and people in Southwest Cameroon.