A coalition of conservation groups released the biannual Top 25 Primates list today, including nine species not appearing on the 2010 list, at the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India. Madagascar tops the list as home to the most threatened primates, including six on the list. Following Madagascar, Vietnam contains five, Indonesia three, and Brazil two. In all, over half (54 percent) of the world’s primates, which have been evaluated, are considered threatened by the IUCN Red List.
“Once again, this report shows that the world’s primates are under increasing threat from human activities. Whilst we haven’t lost any primate species yet during this century, some of them are in very dire straits,” one of the report’s editor, Christoph Schwitzer, Head of Research at the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation (BCSF), said in a press release. “In particular the lemurs are now one of the world’s most endangered groups of mammals, after more than three years of political crisis and a lack of effective enforcement in their home country, Madagascar.”
Only 19 northern sportive lemurs survive in the wild. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
An incredible 91 percent of the world’s lemurs (out of 103 species and subspecies) are currently classified as threatened with extinction by the IUCN Red List. The northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis) is down to 19 individuals in the wild.
“A similar crisis is happening in Southeast Asia, where trade in wildlife is bringing many primates very close to extinction,” Schwitzer added. Nine of the species this year are found in Southeast Asia. Notably, the pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, was thought extinct until 2000. Only four living individuals have been recorded by scientists to date.
Changes from the this year’s report as opposed to 2010 (nine species were replaced) were not necessarily due to changes in species’ status.
“The changes made in this list […] were not because the situation of the nine species that were dropped has improved. In some cases, such as, for example, [the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)], the situation has in fact worsened. By making these changes we intend rather to highlight other, closely related species enduring equally bleak prospects for their future survival,” reads the report, adding that one species, the greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), has seen prospects improve due to the discovery of larger population.
“Primates are a key element in their tropical forest homes,” Russell Mittermeier, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and President of Conservation International, said. “They often serve as seed dispersers and help to maintain forest diversity. It is increasingly being recognized that forests make a major contribution in terms of ecosystem services for people, providing drinking water, food and medicines.”
The world’s primates are imperiled mostly by deforestation and poaching for food and the wildlife trade.
The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates: 2012–2014, by region:
Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae)
Red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra)
Sclater’s Black Lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)
Northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)
Silky Sifaka (Propithecus candidus)
Indri (Indri indri)
Rondo Dwarf Galago (Galagoides rondoensis)
Roloway monkey (Cercopithecus roloway)
Tana River Red Colobus (Procolobus rufomitratus)
Bioko red colobus (Piliocolobus pennantii pennantii)
Grauer’s gorilla(Gorilla beringei graueri)
Pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus)
Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus)
Pig-tailed langur (Nasalis concolor)
Delacour’s langur (Trachypithecus delacouri)
Golden-headed Langur or Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus p. poliocephalus)
Western Purple-faced Langur (Semnopithecus vetulus nestor)
Grey-shanked Douc Monkey (Pygathrix cinerea)
Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus avunculus)
Cao-Vit or Eastern black-crested gibbon (Nomascus nasutus)
Central and South America
Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps fusciceps)
Variegated spider monkey (Ateles hybridus)
Ka’apor capuchin monkey (Cebus kaapori)
San Martín titi monkey (Callicebus oenanthe)
Northern brown howler monkey (Alouatta guariba guariba)
Red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra). Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Indri (Indri indri). Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
(09/12/2012) In a massive, wildlife-rich, and largely unexplored rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), researchers have made an astounding discovery: a new monkey species, known to locals as the ‘lesula’. The new primate, which is described in a paper in the open access PLoS ONE journal, was first noticed by scientist and explorer, John Hart, in 2007. John, along with his wife Terese, run the TL2 project, so named for its aim to create a park within three river systems: the Tshuapa, Lomami and the Lualaba (i.e. TL2), a region home to bonobos, okapi, forest elephants, Congo peacock, as well as the newly-described lesula.
(10/03/2012) Every year scientists describe around 18,000 new species, but mammals make up less than half a percent of those. Yet mammal surprises remain: deep in the remote Peruvian Andes, scientists have made an incredible discovery: a rich cloud forest and alpine grassland ecosystem that may be home to no less than eight new mammal species. Although most of these new mammals are currently under study—and have not been officially described yet (a process which can take several years)—lead scientists, Horacio Zeballos of Peru and Gerardo Ceballos of Mexico are certain they have uncovered a small forest, surrounded by deforestation and farmland, that shelters a remarkable menagerie of mammals unknown to scientists until now.
(10/01/2012) Remember the ‘man with no name’ played by Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars, Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, or the bubbly cute girl in every romantic comedy from Legally Blonde to Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Each of these characters represent an over-the-top type of human personality—loner (man with no name), aloof (Darcy), and nice (the bubbly cute girl)—but a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds that it’s not only humans that show such distinct types, but baboons as well. Studying 45 female chacma baboons in Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve over seven years, the researchers found that such personality types, unrelated to social statues, helped to determine the animals’ overall sociability and the stability of their relationships.
(10/01/2012) Cross River gorillas and eastern gorillas lost more than half their habitat since the early 1990s due to deforestation, logging, and other human activities, finds a comprehensive new assessment across great apes’ range in West and Central Africa.
(08/13/2012) Although founded only four years ago, Endangered Species International-Congo, has ambitious plans to protect dwindling Western gorilla populations and aid local people in the Republic of the Congo. The organization, an offshoot of Endangered Species International (ESI), has been spending the last few years studying the bushmeat trade in Pointe-Noire, the country’s second largest city, and developing plans for turning hunters into conservationists.
(07/27/2012) Researchers have published the first evidence that a recently discovered monkey ranges into China, releasing pictures of the Rhinopithecus strykeri snub-nosed monkey in its natural habitat in Yunnan province. The photos are published in the current issue of the American Journal of Primatology.
(07/24/2012) Climate change that took place 4,000-10,000 years ago may have contributed to the endangered status of one of Madagascar’s rarest lemurs by reducing the extent of its habitat, argues a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.
(07/16/2012) Orangutans are in dire need of a revised conservation approach, according to a new study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. While the plight of the species is widely recognized within the conservation community—receiving international attention in the form of scientific research, funding, and NGO efforts—the authors argue that “there has been frustratingly little progress.”
(07/13/2012) 94 of the world’s 103 lemur species are at risk of extinction according to a new assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released by the group’s Species Survival Commission during a workshop this week. Lemurs, a group of primates that is endemic to the island of Madagascar, are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching for the bushmeat trade.
(07/09/2012) The Ecuadorian capuchin, a Critically Endangered subspecies of the white-fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons), has been discovered in four new locations according to a new study in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Found only in Ecuador and northern Peru, the scientists say the monkey may be unique enough to warrant consideration as a distinct species.