World’s most endangered primates revealed

A list of the world’s 25 most endangered primates has been revealed in a new report at the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity COP11 in Hyderabad, India. The report, which is announced every two years by some of the world’s leading primate experts, reveals the species most in danger of becoming extinct from destruction of tropical forests, illegal wildlife trade and commercial bush meat hunting.

According to the report ‘Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2012–2014’, five of the species are from Africa, six from Madagascar, nine from Asia, and five are from the Neotropics. African countries are home to the majority of the species on the list: Madagascar is home to six species and Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania are each home to one. 

One of the aims of the report, which has been drawn up by primatologists working in the field who have first-hand knowledge of the causes of threats to primates, is to highlight the plight these most endangered primates. Despite the gloomy assessment, conservationists point to the success in helping targeted species recover.

Rondo dwarf galago

Rondo dwarf galago (Galagoides rondoensis), Tanzania. © Conservation International / Stephen Nash

Dr Schwitzer said: “Once again, this report shows that the world’s primates are under increasing threat from human activities. Whilst we haven’t lost any primate species yet during this century, some of them are in very dire straits. In particular the lemurs are now one of the world’s most endangered groups of mammals, after more than three years of political crisis and a lack of effective enforcement in their home country, Madagascar. A similar crisis is happening in South-East Asia, where trade in wildlife is bringing many primates very close to extinction.“

More than half (54%) of the world’s 633 primate species and subspecies with known conservation status are classified as threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The main threats are habitat destruction, particularly from the burning and clearing of tropical forests the hunting of primates for food, and the illegal wildlife trade.

Dr. Russell Mittermeier, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and President of Conservation International, said: “Primates are our closest living relatives and probably the best flagship species for tropical rain forests, since more than 90 percent of all known primates occur in this endangered biome. Amazingly, we continue to discover new species every year since 2000. What is more, primates are increasingly becoming a major ecotourism attraction, and primate-watching is growing in interest and serving as a key source of livelihood in many local communities living around protected areas in which these species occur.’ 

“It’s also important to note that primates are a key element in their tropical forest homes”, he continued. “They often serve as seed dispersers and help to maintain forest diversity. It is increasingly being recognized that forests make a major contribution in terms of ecosystem services for people, providing drinking water, food and medicines.”  

Source: Conservation International


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