Corridors as Coexistence: Bridging the Gap for Great Apes

Authors: Courtney Berne*, Geography and Urban Studies Department Temple University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Biogeography
Keywords: Animal Geography, Political Ecology, Primates, Corridors, Sustainability, Non-Human Mobilities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Hoover, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Human-made corridors, such as: aerial trail way systems, chutes, bridges, and connecting pathways for non-human primates in enclosed compounds are slowly arising as an architectural feature in national zoos and sanctuaries. Though such structures have been developed in settings such as the Philadelphia Zoo (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and the Center for Great Apes (Wauchula, Florida), they will become even more essential in native semi-wild habitat zones in order to circumvent human-non-human conflicts. Due to my real-world experience working with and among great apes in captivity, semi-captive spaces in Africa, and within domestic zoos and sanctuaries, I have witnessed not only a need for these animal-friendly innovations, but also a surprising gap in the literatures addressing this need from a geographical perspective in relation to non-human primates. I hypothesize that due to the increase in contentious human-wildlife encounters, new spaces where animals can exercise their agency will become part of an inevitable spatial reimagining of human-animal coexistence. My paper will tackle the implications of constructing such thruways for increased non-human primate mobility in conflict regions (such as equatorial Africa and Indonesia), specifically between the forest fragments of current great ape habitats. Through the lenses of political ecology and animal geography, I propose that social scientists, especially geographers, must be prepared to collaborate in order to offer practical solutions to bridge spatial gaps for great apes required for their sustained viability.

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