GENEVA (AFP) - Nearly a third of all non-human primates could be wiped out, threatened by illegal wildlife trade, climate change and destruction of their habitat, a new report warned on Friday.
Twenty-nine percent of all monkeys, apes and gorilla species are now in danger of going extinct, according to the report by the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (IUCN).
A complete shame because we have so many close relatives on our family bush that can teach us about evolution, how our brains work, and generally what it means to be human.
It highlighted 25 species it said were most endangered, including the Greater bamboo and white-collared lemurs in Madagascar, and the exotically-named Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey in West Africa.
"You could fit all the surviving members of these 25 species in a single football stadium; that's how few of them remain on Earth today," warned Russell Mittermeier, chairman of the IUCN's Primate Specialist Group.
I suppose a single football stadium seats about 40,000 people. That means there's 1600 of each species left alive, on average. One seriously has to consider now whether there is enough genetic diversity left in those small cohorts to repopulate each species.
The primary cause? Loss of habitats. Animals don't just die off in a vacuum; deforestation especially is going to take its toll because most of these species live in wooded areas. Climate change is only going to exacerbate things more than it already has.
Let's not make this the century of dead primates. Get involved.
I am the president of my university's chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, and one of our projects is a "Tigers for Tigers" conservation awareness campaign (the tiger is our mascot), we used the football stadium illustration and it really hit home for a lot of people. Our stadium holds 87,000 people, and creating a visual showing how tiny some animal populations are in comparison to a gameday gathering of people seemed to be pretty effective in making our point.
I'd be interested to see a breakdown of what percentage of different groups of primates are endangered. I know all the great apes are in trouble, and many many lemurs, but I wonder how old/new world monkeys do in comparison?
Given that we seem to have wiped out our sibling-species about the time we broke out into speech, Its sadly unsurprising that we're working on our cousin-species now. Humans are the ultimate "exotic invasive"....