One Third of Primates at Risk of Extinction

A report by the World Conservation Society reports that one third of the world’s primates are under threat of extinction due to habitat loss and being hunted for food and use in medicines. Twenty-five species are particularly imperiled.

As the BBC tells us:

The report focuses on the fate of the world’s 25 most endangered primate species, which are threatened by a depressing list of problems.

The authors say all the surviving members of these species combined would fit in a single football stadium.

Of particular concern are the Hainan gibbon from China and Miss Waldron’s red colobus monkey from Ivory Coast, both of which have only a few surviving creatures left in the wild.

The report says the threat to primates is worst in Asia where tropical forests are being destroyed and many monkeys are being hunted or traded as pets.

It also argues that climate change is making some species more vulnerable.

The New York Times elabaorates:

Poaching and deforestation in the tropics are imperiling dozens of humans’ primate relations, with nearly a third of the 394 known species of apes, monkeys, lemurs and other groups listed as threatened with extinction in a new report from the World Conservation Union.

The report focuses on the plight of the 25 most endangered species, which live scattered around the tropics, mainly in areas of Asia and Africa. “You could fit all the surviving members of these 25 species in a single football stadium, that’s how few of them remain on earth today,” said Russell A. Mittermeier, the chairman of the panel of primate experts who wrote the report and the president of Conservation International.

There have been improvements in a few areas. Brazil dropped from the list of places with the most imperiled primates for the first time since the periodic assessments began in 2000. But eight primates have been on all four reports issued since then, including the Sumatran orangutan and the Cross River gorilla of Cameroon and Nigeria.

The worst hot spots are in southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, and Madagascar, the report said.

The report was issued yesterday by biologists gathered on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, which is home to the most endangered primate of all, the Hainan gibbon. In a telephone interview from the island, Dr. Mittermeier said there were only 17 or 18 left, although that number rose slightly this year….

Dr. Mittermeier said that in Southeast Asia and some other regions, there was a growing interest among villages near primate habitat in protecting the colonies because they can draw environment-minded tourists, and income.

But without constant protection, which can cost as little as $200 a year in some places, poachers still find a way to hunt or trap animals, he said.

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