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Great Apes and New Wars

Sophia Benz
Universität Tübingen
Judith Benz-Schwarzburg
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper addresses the great apes’ fatal situation in the wild by integrating perspectives from bioethics, species protection and conflict research. More specifically, we ask in how far armed conflicts in the Virunga Region directly and indirectly contribute to the extinction of the Great Apes and the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla in specific. We introduce the conflict situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the concept of ‘New Wars’ in order to identify mechanisms linking armed conflict with the situation of these animals. Contrary to prior research, our empirical analysis draws a more complete and up-to date picture. Latest available data on the animals’ distribution and Red List Status are combined with new (geographically disaggregated) conflict data that include low-level as well non-state fighting. We conclude with some policy implications stressing the connection between conservation efforts and sustainable conflict resolution.