By Alok Jha
Of 634 primate species, 48% are on the IUCN's 'red list' of animals under threat as loggers, hunters and smugglers thrive.
Almost half of the world's primate species – which include apes, monkeys and lemurs - are threatened with extinction due to the destruction of tropical forests and illegal hunting and trade.
In a report highlighting the 25 most endangered primate species, conservationists have outlined the desperate plight of primates from Madagascar, Africa, Asia and Central and South America, with some populations down to just a few dozen in number.
The golden headed langur, which is found only on the island of Cat Ba in north-eastern Vietnam, is down to 60 to 70 individuals. And there are fewer than 100 northern sportive lemurs left in Madagascar, and around 110 eastern black crested gibbons in north-eastern Vietnam.
Of the world's 634 primate species, 48% are classified as threatened with extinction on the IUCN's "red list" of threatened species. The latest report was compiled by 85 primatologists working in the field and will be launched today at Bristol zoo by a coalition of conservation groups including the IUCN and Conservation International and the International Primatological Society
"All over the world, it's mainly habitat destruction that affects primates the most," said Christoph Schwitzer, head of reseaarch at the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation and one of the authors of the report. "Illegal logging, fragmentation of forests through fires, hunting is a big issue in several African countries and also now in Madagascar. In Asia one of the main problems is trade in hearts for traditional medicine, mainly into China."
Russell Mittermeier, a primatologist and president of Conservation International, said: "The purpose of our top 25 list is to highlight those that are most at risk, to attract the attention of the public, to stimulate national governments to do more, and especially to find the resources to implement desperately needed conservation measures. In particular, we want to encourage governments to commit to biodiversity conservation measures when they gather in Japan in October. We have the resources to address this crisis, but so far, we have failed to act." More....