Explore BrainMass

The Saga of the Great Apes

This content was COPIED from BrainMass.com - View the original, and get the already-completed solution here!

In 700-800 words, examine environmental issues from various ethical perspectives in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the situation, its causes, and possible remedies, also create 3 power point slides to summarize this assignment.

The Extended Family
The Saga of the Great Apes
"In a clearing in the jungle of the Congo river basin," Laura Spinney
writes, "local hunters hold an illegal market twice a month with
workers from a nearby logging concession to trade bushmeat for
ammunition, clothes and medicine. Among the carcasses that change hands are
chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees), all of which are protected
species."1 That is not the only market. All over the tropical forests of
West and Central Africa, Latin America and Asia, increasing numbers of commercial
hunters are slaughtering the primates, especially the great apes, for food
and also for export. Conservationist Jane Goodall, the world's foremost expert
on the chimpanzee, has stated that unless this hunting is stopped, "in 50 years
there will be no viable populations of great apes left in the wild."2


It is not easy to tell people in poverty not to hunt monkeys and apes. They are
traditional food in Central Africa, and to the hunters, "They're just animals."3
A hunter will get $60 for an adult gorilla, and a full-grown chimpanzee would
bring almost as much. (Since gorillas bring a better price than chimpanzee,
chimpanzee meat is often sold as gorilla.) Concerned observers in the area
often have reservations about the practice but end by defending the hunting.
As David Brown of the British government's delegation to the Convention
on Trade in Endangered Species put it, bushmeat is "a major component
of the economies of much of equatorial Africa. It is a primary source of animal
protein and the main export commodity for the inhabitants." He therefore
thinks that the "industry" should be "managed, not stigmatised and

Hunting is now a greater threat than habitat loss to ape populations already
strained to the breaking point. "The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates
that there are no more than 200,000 chimps, 111,000 western lowland gorillas,
10,000 eastern lowland gorillas and 620 mountain gorillas left in the wild."
With respect to bonobos, their "numbers are thought to have halved in the
past 20 years."5 Why has the hunting of primates increased so dramatically,
especially in Africa? In all probability, the hunting has been triggered by the
African population explosion of the last 20 years, which has increased the density
of human population all through the forest and countryside and left a hungry
population in the burgeoning cities. The pygmies, for instance, in Congo
and Cameroon, used to eat anything that moved in the forest with no fear of
impacting the species: there was one pygmy for every 10 square kilometres,
and with their poisoned arrows, at that density, they could do no real harm.
They would probably do no harm at ten times that density, at one person per
one square kilometer.6 But now there are many more people than that, not
only pygmies but participants in the new extractive industries.
The mainspring for the crisis was clearly the logging industry. In efforts to
pay off their debts and develop their nations, governments in West Africa
have contracted with foreign companies to log the remaining rainforests.
According to Jeff Dupain of Belgium's Royal Zoological Society in Antwerp,
the companies usher hunters into previously inaccessible forest land when
they make the logging roads; they "make it easier for hunters to get to the
wildlife and transport carcasses back to towns, often using the loggers' lorries
and boats."7Worse yet, as it happens, is their technique of driving roads deep
into the bush to divide the forest into sectors to be worked. Where the forest
is fragmented, the ability of a forest species to reconstitute itself after hunting
is severely compromised, probably destroyed. As if to ensure the maximum
destruction of wildlife, the companies issue the loggers rifles ("to protect
themselves"), and don't send in enough food, expecting the workers to live
off the land.8 In one logging camp alone, in one year, according to a report
released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), more than 1,100 animals
were killed, totaling 29 metric tons, and the hunting of wild game is
three to six times higher in communities adjacent to logging roads. The WCS
estimates that the annual harvest of bushmeat in equatorial Africa exceeds
1 million metric tons.9

In 1998, a coalition of 34 conservation organizations and ape specialists
called the Ape Alliance estimated that in the Congo, up to 600 lowland gorillas
are killed each year for their meat. Although the initial exchanges of that meat


take place in the bush, the bulk of the meat is sold in the cities. The railway
station at Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, houses a bushmeat market that
does not close; one ton of smoked bushmeat, largely chimpanzees and gorilla,
is unloaded there on a daily basis.10 It is no secret. "It's a 500-foot stretch of
sidewalk only a few blocks from the presidential offices and the $200-a-night
Hilton Hotel. . . ." Behind the antelope stalls are "piles from which long arm
bones protrude, obviously those of chimpanzees and gorillas. At the fetish stalls,
you can buy chimpanzee hands, gorilla skulls, round slices of elephant trunk or
the bright red tails of endangered gray parrots."11 (If you boil the finger of a
gorilla, the people believe, and add the water to the baby's bath, the baby will
be strong like a gorilla.)12 Thousands of chimpanzees are killed each year.
Chimpanzees reproduce at the rate of one baby every four years, gorillas usually
more slowly than that. The apes do not have the reproductive capacity to
bounce back from this kind of assault.13

There can be no doubt of the reaction of the developed nations to the
facts. A World Wide Web query on the subject of "bushmeat" yielded "about"
(the search engine's word) 26,300 entries in 0.42 seconds, and all that were
sampled were linked to organizations determined to stop the slaughter and
protect the apes. In April 1999, the same month that the WCS report came
out, 28 organizations and agencies, led by the Jane Goodall Institute, issued a
major statement on the protection of the apes. It enumerated the measures that
would have to be taken immediately if the apes were to survive, calling on
educators, governments, corporations in general and above all the logging,
mining, and other extractive industries to take immediate action to protect the
apes.14 A year later, the situation had not improved. Writing in the Washington
Post, Jane Goodall estimated that the number of chimpanzees had declined to
150,000 from the million and more that roamed the wild when she began her
chimpanzee research in 1960.15 Six months later, the 2,500 delegates to an
eight-day environment meeting in Amman, Jordan, ended with a request to
IUCN-The World Conservation Union to put all possible pressure on governments
to take steps to curtail the trade in bushmeat. By that time the hunting
was "a commercialized industry where automatic weapons have replaced
bows and arrows," an industry worth $350 million a year in Ghana, $121 million
annually in the Ivory Coast.16 The directors of the represented environment
groups talked grimly of "strong conservation solutions" that had to be
adopted immediately.17

Yet there is clearly no unanimity with the developing world. The sense
of revulsion that attends the contemplation of the market in ape hands and
fingers, shared by so many in the nations of Europe and North America,
is obviously not shared by the hunters, by the loggers, or even by the African
and Asian governments nominally in charge of the hunting grounds.
How come we feel it? Before we go any further in examining this controversial
subject, let us take a closer look at the great apes and see if we can
discover, first, who these apes are, and second, based on that information,
possibly, the source of the conviction that the bushmeat harvest is fundamentally



Who are the great apes? At one point a variety of species of large tailless apes
lived in large numbers in equatorial Africa and Southeast Asia, but those populations
have been reduced to fragmented pockets. As noted earlier, we know
that the individuals in the four remaining species number only in the hundreds
and thousands and that a new virus could wipe them all out. In our generation,
we may see the end of the wild apes. Let us find out who they are-
quick, before they are gone.

First of all, as is commonly known, the apes are our relatives. Furthest from
us on the family tree are the "lesser apes," the gibbons (Hylobates) of Southeast
Asia, who show amazing dexterity and acrobatic skill but who are distinguished
from monkeys only by their tendency to walk upright. The "great
apes," our closest relatives, are the orangutan, the gorilla, and the chimpanzee.
We will take a quick look at them before exploring the enormous ethical
dilemma they pose for us.

The orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), native to Borneo and Sumatra, live in solitary
splendor in the canopy of the Asian rainforest, from which they rarely descend
to the ground. They are not bipedal (disposed to walk on two feet) at all but rather
bibrachial-their major mode of locomotion is swinging through the trees. About
twice the size of females, males command overlapping territories of about 40
square kilometers. They do not tolerate each other, tending to harass and kill any
males they meet in the course of a day's foraging.18 Normally they have little use
for humans. However, as their habitat withstood the impact of war, agriculture,
and logging and their numbers fell to 20,000 in 1992 and ever further with the
passage of time, they cannot survive now without human help. According to a
National Geographic report on orangutans published in August 1998, the apes may
reproduce only once in an eight-year interval; the mothers nurse their infants for
about six years, and older siblings can hang around for several more years. As habitat
shrinks, male violence increases, and the death rate of males rises. The prospects
for the survival of the species in the wild are not good.19

The African apes are more closely related to us humans. The bonobos (Pan
paniscus), native to central Congo, are simply smaller chimpanzees, recognized
as a separate species only since the 1930s.The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) is
probably our closest relative, sharing 98.5 percent of our DNA. (Does that
make the consumer of bushmeat 98.5 percent cannibal? Karl Ammann would
contend that indeed it does.20) The gorilla (Gorilla gorilla, as named by a biologist
fresh out of imagination) is the largest of the apes, the male averaging 400
pounds. None of the apes is truly bipedal, suggesting to some anthropologists
that bipedalism made the 1.5 percent difference between the ape and the
human.The mechanisms by which the change occurred are still under scrutiny.
The extensive similarities between us and the apes raise serious moral questions
about the great bushmeat hunt. The chimpanzees, for instance, use tools.
They extract termites from their mounds with straws and sticks, and they crack


nuts with hammers. They pick out "anvils," depressed knotholes of harder
wood where a nut can be positioned securely; find "hammers," pieces of hard
wood or stones for the tougher cases; bring their piles of nuts to the anvils; and
start hammering.21 The behavior is in no way instinctive. It is learned, taught
to each new generation by the last. Further, it is cultural; in different areas, different
groups of chimpanzees have learned different ways of cracking nuts and
use different sets of tools to catch termites. In contrast to the gorillas, who live
in foraging tribes much like those of our own hunting-gathering forebears, in
which dominant males protect and lead the troop and gentle females painstakingly
rear their infants, widely spaced by birth, chimpanzees hunt in groups.
They communicate complex messages, we know not how. Spoken language as
we know it is impossible for chimpanzees because of the placement of the
structures of their throat-they cannot guide air over a voicebox as we can-
but they can learn language: chimps have been taught American sign language,
lexigrams, and token languages. They can communicate with us when we are
willing to use these languages, not at any high intellectual level, but at least at
the level of a young child.22

How do we know what we know about the apes? Because of their similarities
to us, they have attracted many of the best students to observe and inform
us of their ways. Louis Leakey, the great anthropologist of early humanoids,
sent three of his best students into the wild to study the apes.

The careers of those students-all women (Leakey thought that women
would develop better rapport with wild apes)-are instructive. "Leakey's
Angels," as they were called, followed identical paths. They each studied the
apes on site, seeking to advance the science of zoology by collecting and publishing
data on these fascinating animals. Later, graduate students came to join
them, also to study. Then, as they became alarmed at the pressures on the habitat
and on the shrinking numbers of their "subject matter," the researchers
turned their emphasis to public education, hoping to effect more enlightened
policies that would be to the longterm benefit of both animals and humans.
Then, no doubt as a consequence of that 98.5 percent identity with their subjects,
inevitably they became advocates for them, setting up orphanages and
hospitals for the surviving victims of the bushmeat and black-market rareanimals
trade. By this time, they had dropped all pretense of seeing the apes as
mere beasts. Having originally taken up their posts in Africa simply to study
the apes, they stayed on to protect them.

Dian Fossey, who chose the mountain gorillas, achieved the dubious and
quite unexpected fame of martyrdom. She arrived in Africa in 1963 determined
to study the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. With the support of Louis
Leakey and financial help from the National Geographic Society, she set up
permanent residence in the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda in 1967.
During her 18 years of studying the mountain gorillas at Karisoke, she became,
effectively, part of a gorilla group. She was able to watch youngsters be born,
mature, and become responsible adults in the group. Proudly she observed as
one of her favorites, Digit, became the head of a family. When Digit was killed
by poachers (his head taken as a totem, his hands cut off to be made into


ashtrays), Fossey was galvanized into action. She wrote a book, Gorillas in the
Mist, to popularize her cause, and turned her research center into a refuge. As a
crusader for the protection of the gorillas she eventually made herself sufficiently
bothersome to become a murder victim-killed (in 1985) by the
poachers whose prey she was trying to protect. Two years later a movie was
made of her highly readable book to recount her career and (not incidentally)
to publicize the cause of protection of the animals who had become her
friends. It is through that movie that most of us know of her.

Biruté Galdikas, possibly the least known of the Angels, chose the most remote
setting for her work-Borneo, one of the last habitats of the orangutan. She met
Leakey in 1968, and with his support and that of the National Geographic Society
she set up a research camp in Borneo (Camp Leakey, of course). She has been
there ever since. In 1995 she published her autobiography, Reflections of Eden: My
Years with the Orangutans of Borneo,23 which describes her education, scientific
career, and the establishment of Camp Leakey. By then the camp had become not
so much a research center as a refuge, where wild orangutans, rescued from the
poachers, are rehabilitated and integrated eventually back into the wild. With a
co-author, she published another book in 1999, rich with photographs of the
orangutans, for the sole purpose of raising money for her center.24

But for the dramatic movie about Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, who has spent
40 years studying the chimpanzees in Gombe National Park in Tanzania, would
surely be the best known. Goodall spent the first 30 years following a mid-size
group of chimpanzees as they hunted, socialized, and squabbled on a mountain
within the park. Eventually they got used to the zoologist following them
around, and she was able to document their lives in some detail. As she studied
she wrote, presenting to the world a picture of omnivorous and versatile personalities
of animals very like ourselves; it was she who first documented the
use of tools and the possibility of culture among the chimpanzees.25 She went
through the same mutations as the other Angels: once spending time in Africa
to study the chimpanzees, she now spends most of her time on the lecture circuit
trying to raise money for them.

Goodall also brought us the most startling and disturbing revelations about
the lives of the great apes. She had studied the chimps for years, raised her child
among them, learned their social structures, customs, and laws and the distinct
and quirky personalities of the troop she chose to follow, when she sent in new
and alarming reports, this time of psychosis among the chimpanzees. A female
who had no infants of her own had started to steal infants from weaker females.
Since she could not care for the infants, she ate them. Other females started
accompanying her on her kidnapping raids and begged infant flesh for themselves.
A terrible pattern of psychotic murder and cannibalism, hitherto unseen
in the animal world, played itself out before Goodall's eyes. Apparently the
behavior had a physical origin, for it stopped when the female perpetrator herself
became pregnant.

Worse yet were the implications of vicious intergroup violence among
Goodall's chimpanzees. After many years of group living, her troop split up, a
small band of them taking up residence on the other side of the mountain.


Then mysteriously the smaller group began to die off, one by one. Troubled,
Goodall began closer observations to see what was killing them. To her surprise
and horror she found that the killers were bands of raiders from the other
half of the group. Chimpanzees were attacking other chimpanzees in a way
that she had never seen before. Violence was not unusual among the chimpanzees:
males often fought each other for dominance in the group. But in
those ordinary conflicts no one died or got seriously hurt. In these new conflicts,
the victim always died or was left for dead. The attacks were planned,
organized, and directed for maximal effectiveness, isolating a single member of
the victim group and ambushing him. The strongest chimps led the attack;
youngsters followed along and gleefully pounced on the victim when he was
almost dead.

No reason for the attacks could be determined. There was no rivalry over
food-in plentiful supply for all on both sides of the mountain. There was no
rivalry over land, females, or any other resource. There was no discernable environmental
threat (except to the victims after the raids started). And finally,
there was no question that the hunt and the killing were deliberate: the night
before a raid, the raiding party would take up their positions in a tree near the
normal territory of the other group and spend the night in very untypical
silence; then the hunt itself would be carried out in dead silence so that the
victim might not have warning to get away. It was deliberate killing by the
chimpanzees of another of their own species and acquaintance for no reason
but that he belonged to a different group. It was, in the words of one observer,
a clear case of genocide. And the killers clearly enjoyed it, very much.
Far from challenging the notion of human-ape relatedness, the psychotic
and genocidal behavior witnessed by Goodall reinforces it. The great apes are
alarmingly human. Their lives are much like ours in the foraging period. Their
families are much like ours. They sin. They have rituals of forgiveness for individual
sin and are totally unconscious of group sin. They are just like us. When
we look into the eyes of the ape, we look at our own not-so-distant past.
Is it that fact primarily that grounds our conviction that we must somehow
protect the apes from slaughter? As of October 2000, even the tightfisted U.S.

Congress had voted $5 million for the Department of the Interior, "to use for
grants to organizations involved in efforts to protect the great apes."26 On what
is this conviction based? Where, ethically speaking, do the apes stand?
Apologists advance different, and occasionally incompatible, arguments for
their protection. We will examine these arguments in the following sections.


In the objections to the uses of apes for meat, one of the first points always
noted is that apes, as species, are "protected." What is this "protection"? What
is the rationale for "protecting" species?


First, let us be clear that it is not the "species," in the sense of a certain pattern
of DNA, that is being protected-in that sense, we could freeze a few tissue samples
and preserve the species forever. Nor is it the separate individuals that we
propose to save, except perhaps in desperation. The entire ecosystem in which
the species operates is and must be the object of conservation activity (in the case
of the apes the ecosystem is the tropical rainforest).We may think of every species
as a unique tract, a text from nature, a storehouse of information, infinitely valuable,
and each species as a chapter in the book of its own ecosystem. The species
and the ecosystem evolved together and must be preserved together.
We should bear in mind that in the worldwide initiative to preserve the
environment the great apes play two roles, roles in tension with each other.

The first role is as a keystone of the ecosystem, the animal near the top of the
food chain without whose presence the balance would not be kept. The New
England ecosystem was for all intents and purposes destroyed, for instance,
when for good and sufficient reason the cougars and wolves were killed or
driven out. By now accustomed to the overpopulation of white-tailed deer
and rabbits and to the impoverishment of the woods and fields caused by overgrazing,
we will never know how that ecosystem functioned when it was in
balance. Similarly, the tropical forest cannot be saved unless we can preserve it
with all of its species flourishing. And the danger is real: with the slow rate of
reproduction of the great apes, these species are under significant threat.

The second role played by the apes is as a symbol of the ecosystem, much
as the northern spotted owl symbolizes the redwood forest in the battle to save
the giant sequoias of California's northern coast. Because they are so like us,
the apes garner sympathy on their own. Portraying them as endangered wins
sympathy for the effort to preserve the ecosystem as a whole. .The first role is
described as part of ecology, the second is frankly part of preservation strategy.
This second role can be viewed as strategic (as part of a preservation strategy),
the first as ecological. When environmentalists confuse the two roles, the result
can be ethically ambivalent.

Consider a case in point. When the forest fires broke out over the West and
Central Kalimantan provinces of Indonesia some four years ago, primatologist
Barita Manullang, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature's Orangutan
Conservation Project in Jakarta, went to Central Kalimantan to see how the
orangutans were faring. The result horrified him.
In each [village] he found a baby orangutan held in a crude cage. He
knew immediately that the animals' mothers were dead: a mother orangutan
would never abandon her young. When pressed, the farmers in each village
told Manullang the same gruesome tale. A mother with the baby clinging
to its long reddish hair had fled from the nearby smoking forest into the
village's gardens in search of food. Barking dogs had alerted the villagers to
the presence of the animals. As the dogs attacked, farmers wielding
machetes and sharpened sticks hacked and stabbed the mothers to death.
The babies were taken captive-to be sold for up to $100 apiece as pets or
to illicit wildlife traders. The dead mothers were skinned and eaten.27


The habitat problem is particularly severe for the orangutans, who are found
only in the wilderness of Sumatra and Borneo. The rich tropical forest in
which they make their homes provides abundantly if left alone. But agribusiness
is making constant inroads on the forest, and the 1997 fires made their situation
much worse. There is strong suspicion that the fires were not accidental.
International proposals (including an environmental impact study in 1996) had
recommended conserving 70 percent of the Central Kalimantan orangutan
habitat as environmental reserve. But Jakarta (including President Suharto's
powerful family) saw more profit in a mega-rice project that would require
massive deforestation of that habitat. Deforestation went forward regardless of
environmental impact, and the burning finished the job. The fires drove the
animals out of the woods, making life easier for the poachers, and simultaneously
made those areas not worth preserving as forest habitat. Agribusiness and
poachers alike profited from the fires.28

Yet Manullang found it difficult to condemn the small farmers who had
killed the orangutans, even as contemporary observers find it difficult to condemn
all killing of gorillas for bushmeat. The farmers have no choice in their
approach to the orangutans. They live by subsistence farming, close to the edge
of survival, and cannot afford to let the hungry apes, driven out of the forest,
demolish their gardens. Indeed, the meat of the adult orangutans killed in this
latest slaughter probably added significantly to the annual protein intake of the

Ethical ambivalence also attends the situation of the Karisoke gorillas.
Rwanda, neighboring Burundi, and several other nations of Central Africa
have been involved in terrible civil wars, genocide (especially between the
Tutsi, or Watusi, tribe and the Hutu, ancient rivals), revolutions, and military
coups.The planting cycles have been disrupted, and often the people do not
have enough to eat. The wars and the genocide have severely compromised
the ability of Rwandans to preserve their gorillas. Their occupations wiped
out, the people occupy the land wherever they can, demolishing the forest for
food, fuel wood, and building materials. They have no choice.29 How can we
tell them, that the gorilla's life is more valuable than their own-even if, in the
grand sweep of history, that's true?


The chimpanzee shares 98.5 percent of our genetic endowment. Then why
does the chimpanzee not get asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, acne-or AIDS,
even when the virus is clearly present in the bloodstream? Especially HIV and
AIDS. How can the apes harbor a similar virus harmlessly? What can we learn
about human diseases, now and in the future, from experimentation with these


animals? Scientists are calling for sequencing of the chimpanzee genome and
for study of the chimps' resistance to diseases.30 But even now, the poachers
have lowered the number of wild chimpanzees available, to the point of hindering
research. With all the human benefits at stake from a multiyear study of
the immune system of chimpanzees, is there no way we can keep them out of
the cooking pots?

Beyond the uses of chimpanzees' bodies for medical research, what else
may we learn from that overwhelmingly similar genome? Since the great apes
can learn language and seem to experience all emotions that we know, they
may provide an irreplaceable subject for the study of language acquisition and
human psychology. As noted earlier, we also find (or rather, Jane Goodall
found) the same psychopathologies in the chimpanzee, even the tendency to
genocide.31 Is that subject amenable to study? We cannot do research at all on
sophisticated human criminal behavior, because it becomes impossible to conceal
from the subject what is being studied. Yet chimpanzees, who exhibit all
the psychopathological behavior that we do, are not able to understand the
hypotheses of the research. Perpetually naïve subjects, they may well be able to
give us pure results about very impure behavior. Maybe we could even learn to
control it ourselves.

What limitations affect the use of the apes in the laboratory? A growing
movement is afoot to end all animal research or at least regulate it much more
strictly. In the past, animals of all kinds have been beaten, tortured (not as part of
the research but for the amusement of the staff ), abused, neglected, caged without
fresh air or exercise, starved, and left to die of infection in uncleaned cages.
Clearly such treatment is wrong, and wrong for reasons that have nothing to do
with the special qualities of the apes. Civilized people generally acknowledge an
obligation to treat all animals humanely-not humanly, but gently, so as not to
cause them pain or distress. That general obligation entails at least that animals
be fed and watered properly, allowed adequate exercise and companionship, and
kept in clean and well-lighted quarters. The obligation applies to pets, dogs, and
cats, and to farm animals, as well as to the monkeys and apes kept in captivity
for research or for the amusement of our children. (The imperative for the
"humane" treatment of animals actually first applied to horses and was much
encouraged by nineteenth-century English books for girls, like Anna Sewell's
Black Beauty.) The humane perspective asks only that we show mercy and consideration
to creatures who share with us the capacity for pain.

Because of the history of, and propensity for, abuse, scientific research that
uses animals for its subjects requires enforcement of specific protocols by federal
regulation. Such regulation, however, has not prevented studies of unimaginable
cruelty-one of which, Thomas Gennarelli's University of Pennsylvania
study on head injuries, came to national attention when the Animal Liberation
Front "liberated" a particularly damaging set of videotapes from the laboratory
and gave them national exposure.32

Some of the rules developed in the name of humane treatment undermine
the scientific purposes for which certain studies are done. When higher mammals
are to be used for experimental surgery, for instance, and there is a strong


likelihood that the animal will be in pain should it be allowed to regain consciousness,
the rules call for the animal to be humanely killed before it wakes
up. However, unless the animal is kept alive, it might not be possible to ascertain
whether surgery is a success.

But in using apes as subjects of experimentation, humane treatment is not
the only issue. With regard to chimpanzees in particular, their very similarity
to us raises questions about the way research is conducted. In the major studies
of chimpanzee research, especially Roger Fouts's semi-autobiographical
account of his life with the chimpanzees,33 questions of right and humane
treatment tend to overlap. He abhors the "prison-like" setting of most experimental
labs, roundly condemns the scientists who do research for their own
professional purposes, and ends up suggesting that no matter how useful it is,
we ought to abandon animal research altogether.34


We may grant that it is important to preserve ecosystems, for environmental
reasons. We may also grant that it is important to preserve animals that are useful
for research and to treat those animals humanely. But there seems to be
more to the apes question than those provisos. As seen in our earlier discussion,
in many respects, they are human: they have culture, they react to suffering
as humans do, they display a multitude of similar behavioral traits. Should
apes be treated as humans? This is the final and great question.
Stories always propel the argument. Anecdotes of ape behavior continually
grab us where our human sympathy lives. Eugene Linden tells us one of them:
Twenty years ago I met a chimpanzee named Bruno. He was one of a
group of chimps being taught American Sign Language to determine if
apes could communicate with humans. Last year I went to see him again.
The experiment is long past, and Bruno was moved in 1982 to a medical
laboratory, but he is still using the signs. . . . 35

Bruno had learned how to talk in the community in which he found himself.
Then, the experiment over, his ability to talk was of no further use to the
members of that community, so researchers shipped him off to someplace
where he could be used as an oversized lab rat to test vaccines or new drugs.
But he still wants to talk, to communicate. He is not content with the secure
and well-fed life. He is like us humans, and he wants to reach out to humans as
they once reached out to him. What right have we to impose isolation on such
an animal?

Given Bruno's humanness, should we extend to him, and to his species, the
rights of humans? John Blatchford, a British zoologist, suggested as much in
1997.36 David Pearson, of the Great Ape Project (a systematic international
campaign for rights for the great apes, founded in 1993) took up Blatchford's


suggestion in January 1998, calling attention to a "paradigm shift over the past
20 years or so in our understanding of the complex emotional and mental lives
of the great apes-a complexity that demands we confer the basic rights of
life, individual liberty and freedom from torture on all great apes."37 By 1999,
the Great Ape Project joined the New Zealand campaign for full "human
rights" to apes: to ensure that New Zealand's Animal Welfare bill contained a
"clause making nonhuman great apes the first animals in the world with individual,
fundamental rights that will stand up in a court of law: the right to life,
the right not to suffer cruel or degrading treatment, and the right not to take
part in all but the most benign experiments."38 The campaign failed, voted
down in the New Zealand parliament in May of that year.39 Parliament did,
however, recommend an end to all experiments involving apes except for the
benefit of the apes themselves.

The campaign continues, calling for a United Nations Declaration of the
Rights of Great Apes. This declaration would include all the above rights as
well as the right not to be "imprisoned" without due process. Due process?
The language necessarily causes nervousness, not only among the zookeepers
but also among those who carry on research designed to protect the welfare of
apes. Must they obtain informed consent in the future?

Primatologist Frans de Waal of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research
Center in Atlanta argues that according rights to the apes puts us on a "slippery
slope" toward the absurd. "[I]f you argue for rights on the basis of continuity
between us and the great apes, then you have to argue continuity between apes
and monkeys," and so on down to the laboratory rats.40 Philosopher Peter
Singer, author of Animal Liberation, is less worried about rats obtaining legal
rights and wonders whether the slippery slope can't be tilted the other way:
"[I]f you deny chimps certain rights, then logically you have to deny intellectually
disabled children too."41 Do we?

Insight magazine decided that the topic was worth a debate and just
prior to the New Zealand vote, asked Steven Wise, author of Rattling the
Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals, to defend the affirmative, and David
Wagner, professor of constitutional law at Regent University, to defend the
negative, on the question, "Should great apes have some of the legal rights of
persons?" Wagner's opposition rests flatly on the assertion that
Humans are nonarbitrarily different. There is a remarkable consensus of
both religion and philosophy on this uniqueness. . . . Judaism was the first
to proclaim that god made man in His image and that He revealed
Himself to mankind. Later on, Christianity proclaimed a radical redemption
for all humankind, rooted in the claim that God Himself had taken
on human nature . . . Kant . . . taught that the capacity of human beings to
give and demand reasons for their actions was the basis of their rights and
duties. And finally, our Founding Fathers declared that the American
experiment was based on certain self-evident truths, beginning with the
truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable rights. Notice the constant copackaging


of certain ideas: human uniqueness, capacity for reason-giving and special
divine creation.42

The claim is reinforced with abundant quotation from Scripture and Shakespeare.
Steven Wise rests his position on the extensive similarities between
humans and great apes and on the appropriateness of including rights for
apes in the wave of rights-consciousness that has come into being across the
world in the last half century. The scope of these rights has expanded
inexorably and irreversibly. At one point we (of Western civilization) were
willing to confine political rights to a small circle of propertied white
men-the "men," by the way, of the quote from Jefferson in Wagner's piece.
The natural expansion now includes the whole human race, including those
who have no capacity whatsoever for reason-giving. There is no inconsistency,
Wise insists, between arguing that the great apes should be accorded
certain rights of persons now and claiming that not every life form need be
given the same rights. The ultimate limits of equal justice will have to be
determined by the legal and political process as the common law and
constitutional interpretation evolve. Our inability to know or foresee the
ultimate outcome of that process does not force us to tolerate the manifest
injustice of denying basic rights to beings for whom we know they are

What does it take to make a person? Note that rightful treatment does not
presuppose or require "rationality," in any usual sense. Retarded persons, after
all, are not "rational," and are not extended all the rights of citizenship, such as
the right to vote. But they still have rights, in fact, they are offered even more
protections than average citizens because they cannot protect themselves as the
able-bodied can.

The jury is still out on the question. We should note that the question of
animal rights in this sense-the question of whether the higher mammals,
especially the great apes, should be accorded the rights of humans-is rarely
debated unemotionally. The people who believe that apes should enjoy the
rights of humans tend to get irrational in the presence of people who don't.
They come on like John Brown pleading for the African Americans, like
Lawrence of Arabia pleading for the Arabs, and very like the "pro-life"
faction, the foes of abortion, pleading for the lives of the unborn children.
Animal rights proponents honestly believe that they are pleading not for
some special interest or loony sentimental indulgence but for the extension
in our law of rights to creatures who are fully entitled to them. They will not
give up, and there is a strong possibility that this conflict will become violent
in the years to come.


Suppose we decide that apes are, indeed, sufficiently like ourselves to deserve
human rights. What follows? Should we treat them the way we treat human


beings with limited mental capacities-lock them in homes or institutions,
with staff to make sure they dress in the morning, use the bathroom properly,
and eat healthful food until they die? God forbid. The central right for any
creature with rights is to live according to its own laws with members of its
own community, which right the apes surely will never enjoy if we dragoon
them into becoming members of human society. (Whether or not they would
survive such "care" is another question, one that need not be answered.) That
central right alone entails that the apes be left in the wild and left alone, their
habitat protected from infringement and their communities respected as we
would respect any human community. In short, the implications of full rights
for apes are the same as the conclusions of the conservationists.We must work
to preserve the forests where the apes live, we must end all poaching of "bushmeat"
immediately, and we must structure our encounters with all the apes to
reflect the respect owed persons with rights, living according to their own customs
and laws.

Meanwhile, such respect will carry out the environmentalist agenda of
preservation of an endangered species. For the species is complex. We do not
really preserve the species by capturing sufficient numbers of the apes and putting
them in safe cages to eat and breed. For the apes, like ourselves, do not
exist merely as biological organisms but as social animals under evolved systems
of governance. We don't want the only apes left to be those in captivity.
We want them to be wild, to continue to evolve, to anchor their ecosystems,
and to show us a unique way of living.

An agenda of leaving the apes in the forest, protecting the forest by law,
and enforcing that law against poachers, satisfies two criteria for sound public
policy: it is environmentally beneficial and it is ethically correct. But for
such policies to be truly sustainable, they need to be economically viable
too. The best way to set up an industry to sustain the apes is through
enabling "ecotourism," entertaining tourists who want to visit the apes in
the wild. After all, tourists have been traveling to Africa and Asia to see the
animals for several centuries. Ecotourists do not come to shoot, but to enjoy
and to learn. When ecotourism is established and running well, the tourist
dollars support the local economy. For this reason it is in everyone's interest
to make sure that the animals are not harmed or frightened, so that the
tourists will enjoy themselves and will come back, bringing more dollars.
Local officials will also ensure that the habitat is protected for that reason; as
noted earlier, the presence of the apes is becoming the best protection a forest
could have.

There is some interest now in promoting international policies (debt relief
is foremost among them) to encourage nations in the developing world to protect
the remnants of the forest where apes may live. Even those who promote
such policies acknowledge that under the present system of global sovereignty,
it would be up to every nation to decide for itself whether funds allocated to
development should be designated to the protection of the forests.44 The attitude
displayed by governments of developing nations is not encouraging on
the matter. But there is some hope.


Local experiments have worked well, on occasion. Richard Ruggiero, a
wildlife biologist in the Office of International Affairs of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, recounts a tale of a lowland gorilla in a village in the Congo
that contains many of the elements of hope and caution that attend the effort
to create ecotourism. Named "Ebobo" (gorilla; pronounced "ay-bobo") by the
Bon Coin villagers, this solitary male had adopted the custom of frequenting
the village, especially on the trail where the children went to school. His apparent
motive was curiosity, nothing more. (He was too young to challenge the
older males of the area for the right to a territory and a family.) The villagers
immediately called for a gun to shoot him. Since they considered gorillas to be
at once very dangerous and very good to eat, shooting him seemed the best
course of action. Ruggiero, assigned to that village for the purpose of studying
the wildlife in a local pond, spent hours-months-talking to various groups
of the villagers, trying to keep Ebobo off the menu and out of the gunsights.
(The gorilla had survived his first visit only because no one could find a gun.)
In the end, the most persuasive protectors were the shamans, who pointed out
that since Ebobo was not acting like normal gorillas (who avoid human habitation
as much as they can), he might well be a returned spirit of the dead and
should be treated with respect. As the villagers got used to him, however, problems
arose of a different sort; they started wandering very close to him, teasing
him, while the children threw stones at him to see what he would do.As before
and with equally patient urgency, Ruggiero had to persuade the villagers at
length that although Ebobo was not dangerous unless provoked, he was an
accident waiting to happen if teased, and they should leave him alone. At the
writing of the article, the villagers had learned to let Ebobo wander where he
would, and he was doing no harm-even making his way through cornfields
in a way that did not damage the crop. And the village was becoming someplace
special because of the resident gorilla-a place worth going to, which it
seems, is the minimum precondition for the success of ecotourism. In the case
of Ebobo, it took a bit of education, but it worked.45

Zoologist John Blatchford points out that without the help of the
local communities, no protection will work, but thinks the enterprise
possible. A recent experiment in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of
Uganda-home to 300 of the 650 mountain gorillas alive in 1995-has
already shown how this might work. Local subsistence farmers were
given limited access to the forest perimeter and allowed to harvest some
sustainable resources. They were also permitted to keep their bees there
and use the mineral springs. . . . In the experiment, an estimated $30,000
per year, 10% of the revenue generated by tourists visiting the park, was
given to the communities living around the forest. Given that a
Ugandan family of six must manage on $526 per year, the extra income
to the farming community represented a great sum of money, and gave
the community an incentive to protect the revenue-earning gorillas.

These people were, in effect, being paid by the gorillas for their help in maintaining
the park.46


Such efforts should be conjoined, Blatchford argued, with efforts to establish
protections for apes based on their rights as persons, as discussed in the last

Ecotourism will allow apes to stay in their wild habitats and preserve the
ecosystem. It will allow, possibly, selective recruitment of individuals from prospering
groups for research and possibly (see Concluding Questions, below) for
exhibit. The respect engendered by wide experience with apes in their native
communities will ensure that to the extent that they are removed from those
communities, kept for display, or used in research, they will be treated well.
And their fundamental right-the ability to run their own communities
according to their own laws-will be honored.

© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com March 21, 2019, 6:59 pm ad1c9bdddf

Solution Preview

Please see ** ATTACHED ** file(s) for complete solutions and details!!

In 700-800 words Examine environmental issues from various ethical perspectives in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the situation, its causes, and possible remedies, also create 3 power point slides to summarize this assignment.

The environmental issues involved are if we should continue to permit the illegal poaching of the great apes and allow the trade in their meat. Further, we should consider if we should allow the great apes to become extinct. In addition, there is the need to protect the forests in which the great apes live and the ecosystems that supports them. Moreover, there is the issue of extending rights of citizenship to animals in general and the great apes in particular. Should rights be extended to animals that are humanlike? Besides there is a question of whether it is ethical to use apes in laboratory experiments, expose them to infections, keep them in captivity for the amusements for children. Also it is necessary to assess the issue of apes that are indispensable to the local farmers for their subsistence.
From the virtue ethics perspective it is not an act of good character if ...

Solution Summary

This answer provides you an excellent discussion on The Saga of the Great Apes