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Half of all primate species 'in danger of becoming extinct'

Published 18/02/2010

Nearly half of all primate species are now in danger of becoming extinct, research published today revealed.

The dramatic findings, launched at Bristol Zoo Gardens, include a list of the world's 25 most endangered primates.

The research, compiled by 85 experts from across the world, shows mankind's closest living relatives — apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates — are on the brink of extinction and in need of urgent conservation measures.

Destruction of tropical forests, the illegal wildlife trade and commercial bushmeat hunting are all threatening their existence, according to the report Primates In Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2008-2010.

The top 25 most endangered primates includes five primate species from Madagascar, six from Africa, 11 from Asia and three from Central and South America.

Dr Christoph Schwitzer, one of the report's editors and head of |research at Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, said he hoped the findings will draw attention to the primates' plight.

He said: “This report makes for alarming reading.

“We hope it will be effective in drawing attention to the plight of each of the 25 species included. Support and action to help save these species is vital if we are to avoid losing these wonderful animals forever.”

Conservationists want to highlight the plight of species such as the golden headed langur, which is found only on the island of Cat Ba, north-eastern Vietnam, where just 60 to 70 animals remain. Similarly, there are thought to be less than 100 northern sportive lemurs in Madagascar.

Dr Russell Mittermeier is chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Primate Specialist Group and president of Conservation International. He said: “The results from the most recent assessment of the world's mammals indicate that the primates are among the most endangered vertebrate groups.

“The purpose of our list is to highlight those that are most at risk, to attract attention, to stimulate national governments to do more and to find the resources to implement desperately-needed conservation measures.”

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