After surviving a century with no extinctions, 25 species of apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates now risk disappearing forever. In some cases, only a few hundred individuals survive. Of the 25 species listed, 24 are found exclusively in seven of the world’s 25 "biodiversity hotspots," which claim the richest terrestrial species diversity as well as some of the most extreme habitat destruction.
The main causes for primates’ decline are tropical forest habitat destruction and local bushmeat hunting, according to the report. Live capture for the pet trade and export for biomedical research also threaten some species.
The list is not composed only of species with the fewest numbers, the report states. Instead, it also includes primates recently discovered or rediscovered, whose populations are most likely perilously small, but for which no estimates exist, as well as species whose populations were stable only a few years ago but are now under serious threat of extinction. The list also features primates that have only recently been recognized as distinct, and therefore have not been the specific focus of conservation measures.
Biodiversity hotspots, where 96 percent of the most threatened primates live, are identified by Conservation International as 25 places that cover only 1.4 percent of the Earth’s land surface, but claim more than 60 percent of all plant and animal diversity. Hotspots with the most endangered primates are Indo-Burma (especially Vietnam), Madagascar, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest Region, the Guinean Forests of West Africa and Sundaland.
"The plight of primates is a jarring wake-up call. Our planet is on the brink of a major extinction crisis. The questions we face now are -- will we be the first generation in a century to lose a primate species? Or will we be the generation to find lasting solutions?" said Peter Seligmann, CI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
The top 25 most endangered primates, and the hotspots where they are found, are:
Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands Hotspot:
* the golden bamboo lemur, the Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur, Perrier’s sifaka, the silky sifaka and the golden-crowned sifaka
Atlantic Forest Region Hotspot:
* the golden lion tamarin, the black lion tamarin, the black-faced lion tamarin, the buff-headed capuchin and the northern muriqui
Tropical Andes Hotspot:
* the yellow-tailed woolly monkey
Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot:
* Miss Waldron’s red colobus, white-naped mangabey, Sclater’s guenon, the drill and the Cross River gorilla
Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya Hotspot:
* Sanje mangabey
* Delacour’s langur, Cat Ba Island golden-headed langur, gray-shanked douc langur, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey and the Hainan gibbon
* the Sumatran orangutan and the Javan gibbon
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda (not among the hotspots):
* the mountain gorilla
The report was released on January 10, 2000 by Conservation International and the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN -- the World Conservation Union’s Species Survival Commission.
Conservation International works in 27 countries to protect global biodiversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. CI develops scientific, policy, and economic solutions to protect threatened natural ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity.