AsianScientist (Oct. 16, 2012) – The world’s 25 most endangered primates have been revealed in a new report released on Monday at the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity COP11.
Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2012–2014 has been compiled by the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Primatological Society (IPS), in collaboration with Conservation International (CI) and the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation (BCSF).
The biennial list features nine primate species from Asia, six from Madagascar, five from Africa and five from the Neotropics.
In terms of individual countries, Madagascar tops the list with six of the 25 most endangered species. Vietnam has five, Indonesia three, Brazil two, and China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Venezuela each have one.
With this report, conservationists want to highlight the plight of species such as the Pygmy Tarsier (Tarsius pumilus) of Indonesia’s southern and central Sulawesi, which was only known from three museum specimens until 2008, when three individuals were captured inside the Lore Lindu National Park and one more was observed in the wild.
More than half (54 percent) 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.
“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,” says Dr. Russell Mittermeier, Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group and President of Conservation International.
Despite the gloomy assessment, the world has not lost a single primate species to extinction in the 20th and 21st century, although some are very close to total extirpation. This is a better record than for most other groups of larger vertebrates that have lost at least one, often more, species, says the IUCN.
Several species have even been removed from the list — now in its seventh edition — because of improved status, among them India’s Lion-Tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus) and Madagascar’s Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus).
(L) Red Ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) (R) Rondo dwarf galago (Galagoides rondoensis), Tanzania. Photo: Conservation International Stephen Nash.
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