Over half of world's primates on brink of extinction: experts

November 24, 2015
The Sumatran orangutan is a critically endangered species with just 7,500 in existence, according to the World Wildlife Fund
The Sumatran orangutan is a critically endangered species with just 7,500 in existence, according to the World Wildlife Fund

More than half the world's primates, including apes, lemurs and monkeys, are facing extinction, international experts warned Tuesday, as they called for urgent action to protect mankind's closest living relatives.

The population crunch is the result of large-scale habitat destruction—particularly the burning and clearing of tropical forests—as well as the hunting of primates for food and the .

Species long-known to be at risk, including the Sumatran orangutan, have been joined on the most endangered list for the first time by the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar, scientists meeting in Singapore said.

"This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world's primates," leading primatologist Christoph Schwitzer, director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society in Britain, said in a statement.

"We hope it will focus people's attention on these lesser known , some of which most people will probably have never heard of."

This includes the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur—a species only discovered two years ago—and the Roloway monkey from Ghana and Ivory Coast, which experts say "are on the very verge of extinction".

There are 703 species and sub-species of primates in the world.

Madagascar and Vietnam are home to large numbers of highly threatened primate species, the statement said.

In Africa, the was under "particular threat", as were some of South America's howler monkeys and spider monkeys, it added.

"All of these species are relatively large and conspicuous, making them prime targets for bushmeat hunting," the statement said.

Russell Mittermeier, chair of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said he hoped the report would encourage governments to commit to "desperately needed biodiversity conservation measures".

Mittermeier said ahead of next month's global climate conference in Paris, there was growing evidence some primate species might play key roles in dispersing tropical forest tree seeds, which in turn "have a critically important role in mitigating climate change".

Here is the list of the world's top 25 most endangered primates for 2014-2016 and their estimated numbers remaining in the wild.

The list is compiled by the IUCN, Bristol Zoological Society, International Primatological Society and Conservation International and is updated every two years:

Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur—unknown

Primates under threat
Graphic on the world's most endangered primates. 180 x 147 mm

Lake Alaotra bamboo lemur—about 2,500-5,000

Red ruffed lemur—unknown

Northern sportive lemur—around 50

Perrier's sifaka—1,700-2,600

Rondo dwarf galago—unknown but remaining habitat is just 100 square kilometres (40 square miles)

Roloway monkey—unknown but thought to be on the very verge of extinction

Preuss' red colobus monkey—unknown

Tana River red colobus monkey—1,000 and declining

Grauer's gorilla—2,000-10,000

Philippine tarsier—unknown

Javan slow loris—unknown

Pig-tailed langur—3,300

The tarsier is the world's smallest primate and are a protected species in the Philippines

Cat Ba langur (golden headed langur)—60

Delacour's langur—234-275

Tonkin snub-nosed monkey—less than 250

Kashmir grey langur—unknown

Western purple-faced langur—unknown

Hainan gibbon—25

The roloway monkey is thought to be on the verge of extinction
The roloway monkey is thought to be on the verge of extinction

Sumatran orangutan—6,600

Ka'apor capuchin—unknown

San Martin titi monkey—unknown

Northern brown howler monkey—less than 250 mature animals

Colombian brown spider monkey—unknown

Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey—unknown

Explore further: Dozens of primate species on the brink: study

Related Stories

Dozens of primate species on the brink: study

February 18, 2010

Seldom seen species of lemur, monkey and gorilla are among 25 primates facing near-certain extinction unless urgent measures are taken to protect them, according to a report released Thursday.

Tonkin snub-nosed monkey sighting in Vietnam

May 21, 2012

As one of the most endangered primate species in the world, sightings of the elusive Tonkin snub-nosed monkey are rare. It’s no wonder a recent sighting of a group in Vietnam has proved cause for celebration.

Lemurs the world's most threatened mammal: study

July 14, 2012

Lemurs, the furry apes brought to fame by the Disney animation film "Madagascar", are the most endangered mammals on Earth, an International Union for Conservation of Nature conference found.

Madagascar lemurs top endangered primates list

October 15, 2012

In the hit cartoon film "Madagascar", the island's lemurs are a lovable bunch of extroverts, but they are also among the world's most threatened primates, conservationists warned on Monday.

Recommended for you

Why mole rats are more flexible than we previously thought

August 29, 2016

One of the most interesting facts about mole rats - that, as with ants and termites, individuals specialise in particular tasks throughout their lives - turns out to be wrong. Instead, a new study led by the University of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.