As ape extinction due to the bushmeat trade began to cause social groups of apes to disintegrate, losing many key adult members (according to researchers close to these groups) and leaving many ape children orphaned, pressure mounted to save these species. National Geographic produced a poignant piece on the social life of Great Apes, entitled "Social Climbers", that stated bluntly that the extinction of man's nearest relatives would certainly lead to ignorance of human origins and thus of the nature of human conflict, and in so doing might tend to extinct man himself.
Despite its extreme assumption of causality, the United Nations itself may be tending towards this view. It appointed Jane Goodall, the primatologist most closely associated with chimpanzees and author of many longitudinal studies of chimp life over a forty-year period, as an Ambassador. This was in response to the crisis of African "bushmeat" including chimpanzee and bonobo and gorilla flesh, presently being sold in African cities. Goodall has been a consistent advocate of Great Ape personhood, that is, treating all hominids as "persons" not as "animals".
Critics of her views, and those of other such advocates, hold that it trivializes the term genocide, offends human dignity, and is one of many unreasonable animal rights positions that distracts human attention from key human issues.
The numbers and facts involved are presented in another article on ape extinction.