On October 15, international conservation groups and primate experts released a report revealing the 25 most endangered species of primates. According to the report, the listed species of monkeys, apes, and lemurs are at risk of extinction and need immediate protection from tropical forest destruction, commercial bush meat hunting, and the illegal wildlife trade.
More than half of the world’s 633 primate species and subspecies with known conservation status are classified are threatened with extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Of the severely threatened species listed in the report, six live in Madagascar, five are on the mainland of Africa, nine are from Asia, and five are from South America. Due to habitat destruction and illegal hunting, one of the most as risk is the northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur ankaranensis), with only 19 known individuals left in the wild in Madagascar.
The authors of the report emphasize the importance of primates in maintaining forest diversity, dispersing seeds in tropical forests, and as an ecotourism attraction.
The report did present some positive news: no primate species have gone extinct in the 20th and 21st centuries, and some species, like India’s lion-tailed macaque and Madagascar’s greater bamboo lemur, were removed from the endangered inventory because their populations appeared to have recovered.
Sources: E&E Publishing (Greenwire, October 16, 2012), Scientific American (October 16, 2012).