5 of the Most World’s Most Endangered Primates (Slideshow)

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.”

Hey you, what have you got there?

1. The heavily hunted Red-Ruffled Lemur (Varecia rubra) of Madagascar is the first lemur threatened by the degraded forest.

Photo by jinterwas

Nycticebus javanicus 002

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

Ankanin'ny Nofy - 41

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

Probiscis Monkey {Nasalis larvatus}

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

Barbado / Brown howler (Alouatta guariba)

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

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Elena B.
Elena Bonati2 years ago

Very sad news.

Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Tim Upham
Tim Upham2 years ago

The problem is with many endangered species, they cannot be kept nor bred in captivity. The proboscis monkey is one of them. Sumatran rhinos have hardily bred in captivity, so this the reason why conservation must be enacted, to save their ecosystems and their wild populations.

Eveline M.
Eveline M.3 years ago


Carrie Anne Brown

sad news but thanks for sharing

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

wow. how very sad

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush3 years ago

Whenever I see an animal that is not very familiar to me, I wonder.......
What do they know, that we don't?

Jake C.
Jake C.3 years ago


Robin R.
Robin R.3 years ago

People need to start respecting animals' right to life - that includes not only refraining from slaughtering animals directly, but also allowing them to keep their natural habitats. Please avoid palm oil in everything you buy - and if you do buy something that contains palm oil please only buy sustainable palm oil. The industry is depleting the Indonesian rainforest at an alarming rate with no regard for the many species whose survival is dependant on it.

Laura McGowan
Laura McGowan3 years ago

Until something is done about HUMAN overpopulation, we will continue to see habitat destruction, exotic animal trade, etc.with extinctions on a mass scale. Nature is losing against humans, but once we lose nature, we will have NOTHING. Too many greedy, evil men have control of the planet, yet if more of the masses were to stand up against this tyranny that continues to rape the planet, maybe we will have a chance. Otherwise, it will only escalate to the point of no return. Our planet cannot continue to sustain the current and increasing HUMAN population. When will action be taken to save nature?! It looks like it won't be done in time. May the universe forgive our greed and exploitation. We are responsible for this planet's and ALL its inhabitants' demise...