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Primates on the brink

Mankind's closest living relatives-the world's apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates-face increasing peril from humans and some could soon disappear forever, according to a report released today by the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN-The World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Primatological Society (IPS), in collaboration with Conservation International (CI).

Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates-2004-2006 reveals that 25 percent-or one in four-of the 625 primate species and subspecies are at risk of extinction. The report compiled by more than 50 experts from 16 countries cites deforestation, commercial bushmeat hunting, and the illegal animal trade as the primary threats, and warns that failure to respond will bring the first primate extinctions in more than a century.

The golden-headed langur of Vietnam and China's Hainan gibbon number only in the dozens. The Horton Plains slender loris of Sri Lanka has been sighted just four times since 1937. Perrier's sifaka of Madagascar and the Tana River red colobus of Kenya are now restricted to tiny patches of tropical forest, leaving them vulnerable to rapid eradication. Hunters kill primates for food and to sell the meat, traders capture them for live sale, and loggers, farmers, and land developers destroy their habitat.

"More and more, mankind's closest living relatives are being cornered into shrinking areas of tropical forest," said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier, who also chairs the IUCN-SSC Primate Specialist Group. "This is especially true of Madagascar, one of the planet's biodiversity hotspots that has lost most of its original forest cover. More than half its lemurs, none found anywhere else in the world, are threatened with extinction. Without immediate steps to protect these unique creatures and their habitat, we will lose more of our planet's natural heritage forever."

The World's 25 Most Endangered Primat
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Source:Conservation International


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