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More Than Half Of World's Primates Threatened With Extinction

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More than half of the world's primates face threats of extinction. Findings of a new research have revealed that the world's family of monkeys, apes, lorises and lemurs face an extinction crisis largely due to human activities.

60 Percent Of Primate Species Face Extinction Threats

In a new global study of primates published in the journal Science Advances on Jan. 18, scientists looked at the conservation status of over 500 individual species. They found that 75 percent of these species have declining population and 60 percent are threatened with extinction.

Although primates are spread throughout 90 countries, two thirds of the species are found in only four namely Brazil, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Madagascar, where about 87 percent of primate species face extinction. In Asia, 73 percent of the primate species are in danger of being wiped out.

Man-Made Activities To Blame For Declining Primate Populations

Study researchers Jo Setchell, from Durham University, said that massive habitat loss and illegal hunting are the primary causes of these threats. Forests, for instance, which serve as primate habitat, are converted to industrial agriculture, which leave primates with no place to live.

Agricultural Growth And Primate Habitats

From 1990 to 2010, agricultural growth claimed an area of primate habitats equivalent to three times the size of France. Destruction of forests to give way for palm oil plantations in Sumatra and Borneo drove severe decline in the population of orangutans in those regions.

Expansion of rubber plantations in China also led to the near extinction of the Hainan gibbon and the white-cheeked crested. The populations of the Bengal slow loris, Phayre's leaf monkey and the western hoolock gibbon, on the other hand, were hit as a result of the growing number of rubber plantations in India.

Hunted For Meat And Body Parts

Primates are also hunted for their meat and trade as demand for these animals as pets or for their body parts continues. Other human activities such as clearing the forest for livestock and cattle ranching, mining, as well as oil and gas drilling also pose threats to the world's primates.

"Given that primate range regions overlap extensively with a large, and rapidly growing, human population characterized by high levels of poverty, global attention is needed immediately to reverse the looming risk of primate extinctions and to attend to local human needs in sustainable ways," the researchers wrote in their study.

Other Causes

Researchers also cite climate change and infectious diseases that can be transmitted by humans to animals as factors that can exacerbate the declining population of primates.

Personal Choices Can Help Protect Primates

Setchell and colleagues said that there are ways that can help conserve primate species and these include making personal choices as consumers to avoid contributing to tropical deforestation.

Setchell said that simple examples include not buying tropical timber and not consuming palm oil, which is used in a range of products including doughnuts, lipstick and biodiesel fuel.

"In industrialised nations, we must decrease our demand for resources that we don't need, and stop confusing wants with needs," Setchell said.

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