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article imageOver half of world's primates could disappear in next 50 years

By Karen Graham     Jan 20, 2017 in Environment
Over half of all the world's non-human primates are now threatened with extinction as continuing agricultural and industrial activities destroy forest habitats and hunting and trading reduce their populations.
Drawing on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, peer-reviewed science reports, and UN databases, primatologists, and researchers from the University of Illinois and the National Autonomous University of Mexico analyzed the state of over 500 primates around the world, coming to a bleak assessment of their survival prospects, reports New Scientist.
The report, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, points out that 60 percent of wild primates around the world are on course to die out, with at least three-quarters of the world' species already in a steep decline. There are 504 known non-human primate species in the world today, with 85 of them discovered since 2000. Think of it, almost 75 percent are already in danger of disappearing.
The Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) is a subspecies of the western gorilla. This primat...
The Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) is a subspecies of the western gorilla. This primate is critically endangered, with only about 250 left in the wild.
arenddehaas
Anthony Rylands, a senior research scientist at Conservation International who helped to compile the report said he was "horrified" by the grim picture the report painted. “The scale of this is massive,” Rylands told the Guardian.
“Considering the large number of species currently threatened and experiencing population declines, the world will soon be facing a major extinction event if effective action is not implemented immediately."
Orangutan numbers and distribution have declined rapidly since the middle of the 20th century  due t...
Orangutan numbers and distribution have declined rapidly since the middle of the 20th century, due to human activities. These include hunting, unsustainable and often illegal logging, mining, and conversion of forests to agriculture.
WWF
Three factors are cited as being responsible for the declines - Hunting for food and illegal trading, mining (the search for coltan, an ore used in cell phones is one example), and deforestation, which has had the most dramatic negative impact on primates, reports the Verge.
Of the three, deforestation from 1990 to 2010, has claimed 1.5 million square kilometers (370,658,072 acres) of primate habitats, an area three times the size of France. In Sumatra and Borneo, forest habitat has been turned into palm oil plantations, leading to the decimation of orangutan populations.
Ring-tailed lemur.
Ring-tailed lemur.
And in China, expansion of rubber plantations has lead to the near extinction of the northern white-cheeked crested gibbon and the Hainan gibbon. In India, rubber plantations have hit the Bengal slow loris, the western hoolock gibbon, and Phayre’s leaf monkey.
Although primates are found in 90 countries around the globe, two-thirds can be found in just four nations: Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In Madagascar alone, 87 percent of its primates are facing extinction. In Asia, 73 percent of primates are nearly extinct.
Because of deforestation  Bornean orangutan populations have declined by more than 50% over the past...
Because of deforestation, Bornean orangutan populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years, and the species' habitat has been reduced by at least 55% over the past 20 years.
WWF
We humans forget that our non-human relatives "play an important role in the livelihoods, cultures, and religions of many societies and offer unique insights into human evolution, biology, behavior, and the threat of emerging diseases," says the report.
Russell Mittermeier, another Conservation International scientist and co-author of the study, said that while changes have to be made in reducing our ecological footprint, it was crucial that we target conservation of our most threatened species.
“Clearly we need to deal with the drivers of extinction, from commercial agriculture to mining and logging. But if we focus all of our efforts on that, by the time we have had an impact, there won’t be anything left. So we must first protect the last remaining pieces of habitat and if no protected areas exist, we must create them."
More about Primates, survival prospects, Agriculture, hunting and trade, Extinction
 
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