At a meeting earlier this week of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity COP11, conservationists revealed a list of the world’s 25 most endangered primates. A complete report, Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2012-2014 is available as a pdf file. It’s a depressing read.
Out of the 25, the most (six) are from Madagascar; five are from Vietnam. Their numbers are threatened due to the loss of their habitats (especially of forests), the seemingly unstoppable global black market in exotic wildlife and the threats posed by hunters and poachers (who sometimes hunt them to use parts of their anatomy in traditional Asian medicine).
Currently, 54 percent of the world’s 633 primate species and subspecies are classified as threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Head of Research at the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation (BCSF), underscores the role of humans in putting primates into peril, in Science Daily: “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.”
1. The heavily hunted Red-Ruffled Lemur (Varecia rubra) of Madagascar is the first lemur threatened by the degraded forest.
Photo by jinterwas
2. Less than 10 percent of the original forest of Java and Indonesia, which has been home to the Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus), remains. The numbers found in animal markets now “exceed the ability for population numbers to recover.”
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
3. The Indri (Indri indri) of Madagascar is the largest species of lemur; its numbers have fallen by 50 percent in the past 36 years.
Photo by Olivier Lejade
4. The population of the Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus), which is native to Borneo, has decreased by more than 50 percent in the past 40 years.
Photo by Drew Avery
5. The Northern brown howler monkey (Alouatta guariba guariba) is now restricted to one area north of Brazil’s Rio Jequitinhonha. It is unlikely that more than 250 mature individuals remain.
Thanks to conservationists’ work, no primate species were declared extinct in the 20th century. So far, no primate species have been lost in the 21st century but whether that will remain the case is for grabs. Some of the primate species noted in the Primates in Peril report are “very close to total extirpation”: It’s up to us to ensure that they do not disappear from the face of the earth.
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Photo by Bart vanDorp
Photo of the Northwest Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) by Tim Sträter