A report released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has revealed that the common chimpanzee might soon be on the brink of extinction after a troop of them in the wild learned how to masturbate five years ago.
in 2009 conservationists from the WWF observed chimpanzees in Tai National Park (in southern Côte d’Ivoire) stimulating their own genitals using their hands, smooth stones and branches, while completely disregarding other members of their troop until they achieved orgasm. As a result of being able to satisfy their sexual urges on their own, the chimpanzees decided to completely forgo any attempts at mating with their species throughout the six months that the team spent studying the population. When they returned in June this year they saw that the behaviour had spread to the national park’s entire population, including the complete disinterest in members of the opposite sex. It is this that has them worried, says Dr. Joanna Mailer, head ecologist of the group.
“We did a survey of the park and found birth rates have dropped 90% in the five years since we last came here – nearly every chimpanzee we have encountered so far has stopped having sex altogether. It’s a case of monkey-see monkey-do, the activity has caught on incredibly quickly. There’s nothing special about the population here either, so I don’t see why this won’t spread the rest of the populations in western Africa. If this happens, we’re looking at the complete extinction of the species in as few as 35 years, roughly long enough for the last born chimps to die of old age. It might sound like a joke now, but these apes are literally wanking themselves to death.”
The problem is not an unwillingness or apathy towards mating – as seen in giant pandas – rather that the opportunity cost of competing for and pursuing a mate, is now far too high for any chimpanzee who knows how to pleasure itself. “Unfortunately these guys are clever enough to realise that not only can they avoid getting injured in fights between other males over a female, but they can spend all that time getting several more orgasms at their convenience. And yes, they’re also clever enough to design rudimentary sex toys that no male chimpanzee could ever live up to.”
There is hope, however. The WWF is looking into methods of curtailing the rampant masturbation that could drive the species to extinction. “We are in talks with a pastor from the Mormon Church and see if they can send some missionaries over.”