The situation is most worrying in Asia where more than 70 percent of primates species are endangered due to the increasing human population who needs more place and… more food.
This is horrifying me beyond word. Indeed how can we talk about sustainable development and respect for Nature ( or Gaïa ) when things like these are occurring ?
According to the IUCN official press release :
Mankind’s closest relatives – the world’s monkeys, apes and other primates – are disappearing from the face of the Earth, with some being literally eaten to extinction.
The first comprehensive review in five years of the world’s 634 kinds of primates found that almost 50 percent are in danger of going extinct, according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
Issued at the 22nd International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, the report by the world’s foremost primate authorities presented a chilling indictment on the state of primates everywhere. In Asia, more than 70 percent of primates are classified on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered – meaning they could disappear forever in the near future.
Habitat destruction, through the burning and clearing of tropical forests, which also emits at least 20 percent of the global greenhouse gases, is a major threat to primates. Other threats include the hunting of primates for food and an illegal wildlife trade.
“We’ve raised concerns for years about primates being in peril, but now we have solid data to show the situation is far more severe than we imagined,” said Russell A. Mittermeier, longtime chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group and the president of Conservation International (CI). “Tropical forest destruction has always been the main cause, but now it appears that hunting is just as serious a threat in some areas, even where the habitat is still quite intact. In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction.”
The review funded by CI, the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the IUCN is part of an unprecedented examination of the state of the world’s mammals to be released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October.
With the input of hundreds of experts worldwide, the primate review provides scientific data to show the severe threats facing animals that share virtually all DNA with humans. In both Vietnam and Cambodia, approximately 90 percent of primate species are considered at risk of extinction. Populations of gibbons, leaf monkeys, langurs and other species have dwindled due to rampant habitat loss exacerbated by hunting for food and to supply the wildlife trade in traditional Chinese medicine and pets.
“What is happening in Southeast Asia is terrifying,” said Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Head of the IUCN Species Programme. “To have a group of animals under such a high level of threat is, quite frankly, unlike anything we have recorded among any other group of species to date.”
(…) As our closest relatives, non-human primates are important to the health of their surrounding ecosystems. Through the dispersal of seeds and other interactions with their environments, primates help support a wide range of plant and animal life in the world’s tropical forests. Healthy forests provide vital resources for local human populations, and also absorb and store carbon dioxide that causes climate change.
(…) “If you have forests, you can save primates,” said Anthony Rylands, the deputy chair of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group. “The work with lion tamarins shows that conserving forest fragments and reforesting to create corridors that connect them is not only vital for primates, but offers the multiple benefits of maintaining healthy ecosystems and water supplies, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.”
(…) The IUCN Red List sets a series of criteria for a species to be categorized as threatened. In cases lacking the necessary information, the species can be listed as Data Deficient, which applied to nearly 15 percent of the primates in the new review. Many of those species, particularly newly discovered ones, are expected to eventually be classified as threatened.
This reminds me of an article I wrote on why protecting Nature and the myriad of species is important as in fact they are protecting us.