Almost half of the world’s primate species face extinction

A report being launched today at Bristol Zoo shows that 48% of the world’s 634 primate species, which includes apes, monkeys and lemurs, are threatened with extinction. The report, which was compiled by 85 primatologists, highlights the top 25 most endangered primate species, including the golden headed langur, found in north-eastern Vietnam, whose population is down to between 60 and 70 individuals. The main threats to primates are illegal logging, hunting and trade, and fragmentation of forests through fires.

The report aims to encourage governments to find resources to implement greater conservation measures. Indeed, there is evidence that conservation measures can be effective in helping primate species to recover: more than 30 years of conservation effort at zoos and by scientists enabled the black lion tamarin to be moved from “critically endangered” to “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

The UN’s Redd programme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) involves rich countries paying developing countries to maintain their forests in order to prevent further greenhouse gas emissions. The programme might also involve incentives for developing countries to plant more trees and would be highly valuable for primate conservation.

Source: Guardian, 18th January 2010