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Planet Without Apes

Planet Without Apes

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Planet Without Apes
    Book Description:

    Can we live with the consequences of wiping our closest relatives off the face of the Earth, and all the biological knowledge about ourselves that would die along with them? Extinction of the great apes threatens to become a reality within a few human generations. Stanford tells us how we can redirect the course of an otherwise bleak future.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06788-2
    Subjects: Zoology, Environmental Science, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. PROLOGUE: Save the Apes!
    (pp. 1-7)

    There are seven billion people on Earth today. Meanwhile, the population of our next-of-kin is plummeting to extinction. After millions of years of co-existence with humans, they have been nearly exterminated within a few decades and seem destined to go the way of the American bison, the giant panda, and the tiger; reduced to such pathetically low numbers that they exist only in carefully managed, protected areas. As in other genocides, the world watches, wrings its hands, but does very little to stop it. The result of the slaughter will be that the great apes, our closest relatives on Earth,...

  4. ONE Heart of Darkness
    (pp. 8-36)

    Up a long, winding muddy river from the sea, a massive slaughter is taking place. It’s happening largely out of sight from anyone who might be motivated to do something to stop it. If it were a slaughter of human beings it would be called by its rightful name: genocide. It spans the wide equatorial belt of the African continent, with a parallel slaughter being carried out half a world away in Indonesia. It has been going on for many decades, but its pace has quickened recently, and the slaughterers seem almost hell-bent to rid the world of their victims....

  5. TWO Homeless
    (pp. 37-72)

    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. We leave the brain-poaching equatorial sun and enter a bower of thickets, gurgling streams, and fruit trees. Contrary to the popular image of a tropical forest, there are few towering,...

  6. THREE Bushmeat
    (pp. 73-102)

    A billowing cloud of red dust follows the car as it roars into the little marketplace. The SUV screeches to a halt and a man steps out. He is well dressed compared to the villagers he walks among, looking like a city guy lost in the countryside. He walks into the open-air bazaar, past dozens of tiny stalls. Smiling shop owners call out to him as he passes, urging him to buy everything from plastic baskets to stacks of tomatoes to sides of freshly butchered beef. He ignores them and heads straight for one of the narrow back alleys. It...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. FOUR Outbreak
    (pp. 103-127)

    The gorillas had been walking all day, stopping occasionally to climb a tree to search for fruit or plunder a saladlike growth of favored plant leaves. They were a group of a dozen, with one massive silverback male, another adolescent “blackback” male, and several females and their babies. During rest times, mothers watched their infants, young males jostled one another during play bouts, and a silverback kept a watch for danger, especially other silverbacks. After a long midday nap, the group walked south toward a stand of trees it knew well. But along the way, a female was diverted by...

  9. FIVE In a Not-So-Gilded Cage
    (pp. 128-158)

    The city of West Covina, California, a suburb of LOS ANGELES, had a mascot, and his name was Moe. Moe was an adorable child with the scrunched-up face of a wizened old man and the clumsily affectionate nature of a toddler. He was raised by St. James and LaDonna Davis, a loving couple who were his adoptive parents. St. James claimed he had rescued Moe from a poacher during a trip to Africa. In all likelihood, Moe had been taken from his mother after she was shot by poachers and ended up in the hands of an animal dealer who...

  10. SIX The Double-Edged Sword of Ecotourism
    (pp. 159-190)

    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. The gaggle of eco-tourists turns up early on a misty morning at the national park office. They’re mostly Americans with assorted other western nationalities—Australian, British, and Italian—in the mix. The Americans look like they stepped off the pages of an L.L. Bean catalog; color-coordinated Gore-Tex ponchos, high-tech boots, and camera bags from which lenses bulge. Their gear costs more than most Ugandans earn in a year. The Aussies are young backpackers, scruffy and tattooed. The British couple are avid birdwatchers, as their distracted up-in-the-trees gaze and $1,500 binoculars attest. The Italians are a...

  11. SEVEN Ethnocide
    (pp. 191-221)

    By comparing the extinction of great apes to a widespread genocide, I mean no disrespect to the millions of humans who have died inhumanly, or through our collective inaction in the face of slaughter. Genocide is the willful and systematic destruction of an ethnic, cultural, political, or racial group. It is a crime in the eyes of the international community, one that is placed on an evil pedestal above that of mere mass murder because of its targeted nature. Groups of people have been trying to wipe out each other since the beginning of recorded time. Long before the Holocaust...

  12. EPILOGUE: May There Always Be Apes
    (pp. 222-228)

    It’s 2150. The world has changed in ways that no futurist can yet predict. Wars, cataclysms, and epidemics that existed only as science fiction have come and gone. We are connected in ways that make smart phones and the internet look ridiculously primitive. Global population growth, long forecasted to plateau around twelve billion, has yet to level off. The human tsunami has swept clean much of the natural world that in the early twenty-first century we had still hoped to save for posterity. The developing world has been most transformed, as the sprawl of villages and farms has given way...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 231-240)
  14. Further Reading
    (pp. 241-246)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 247-251)
  16. Index
    (pp. 252-262)