Survival of many of the world's nonhuman primates is in doubt, experts report

January 18, 2017

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A report in the journal Science Advances details the grim realities facing a majority of the nonhuman primates in the world - the apes, monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises inhabiting ever-shrinking forests across the planet. The review is the most comprehensive conducted so far, the researchers say, and the picture it paints is dire.

"Alarmingly, about 60 percent of primate species are now threatened with extinction and about 75 percent have declining populations," the authors wrote.

"This truly is the eleventh hour for many of these creatures," said University of Illinois anthropology professor Paul Garber, who co-led the study with Alejandro Estrada of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "Several species of lemurs, monkeys and apes - such as the ring-tailed lemur, Udzunga red colobus monkey, Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, white-headed langur and Grauer's gorilla - are down to a population of a few thousand individuals. In the case of the Hainan gibbon, a species of ape in China, there are fewer than 30 animals left."

Another critically endangered ape, the Sumatran orangutan, lost 60 percent of its habitat between 1985 and 2007, Garber said.

These species face a host of threats, from hunting, the illegal pet trade and habitat loss as humans continue to log tropical forests, build roads and mine "in needlessly destructive and unsustainable ways," Garber said. "These primates cling to life in the forests of countries such as China, Madagascar, Indonesia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo," he said.

"Sadly, in the next 25 years, many of these primate species will disappear unless we make conservation a global priority," he said. "This, by itself, would be a tragic loss. Now, consider the hundreds of other species facing a similar fate around the world, and you get a sense of what's truly at stake."

Just four countries - Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo - host two-thirds of all species of primates, the researchers report, making these countries obvious targets for measures to halt - and perhaps even reverse - the global primate extinction trend.

Habitat loss as the result of road building, mining, logging and agriculture, along with hunting and illegal trade in animals and animal parts, is often tied to high rates of population growth and the poverty of communities living nearby, Garber said.

"Addressing local poverty and easing population growth is a necessary component of primate conservation," he said. "Building economies based on the preservation of forests and their primate inhabitants, and broadening educational opportunities for women would begin to address some of the greatest threats to these animals."

Of all the threats, however, the biggest is humanity's swelling agricultural footprint, Garber said.

"Agricultural practices are disrupting and destroying vital habitat for 76 percent of all primate species on the planet," he said. "In particular, palm oil production, the production of soy and rubber, logging and livestock farming and ranching are wiping out millions of hectares of forest."

Mining and drilling for minerals and fossil fuels add to the long list of assaults on the world's forests and their primate inhabitants, he said.

"We have one last opportunity to greatly reduce or even eliminate the human threats to primates and their habitats, to guide conservation efforts, and to raise worldwide awareness of their predicament," the authors wrote. "Primates are critically important to humanity. After all, they are our closest living biological relatives."
-end-
Editor's notes:

To reach Paul Garber, call 217-390-7679; email p-garber@illinois.edu.

The paper "Impending extinction crisis of the world's primates: Why primates matter" is available to reporters from scipak@aaas.org.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Poverty Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 second wave in Myanmar causes dramatic increases in poverty
New evidence combining surveys from urban and rural Myanmar and simulation analysis find COVID-19 second wave dramatically increasing poverty and food insecurity.

Advancing the accurate tracking of energy poverty
IIASA researchers have developed a novel measurement framework to track energy poverty that better aligns with the services people lack rather than capturing the mere absence of physical connections to a source of electricity.

If you're poor, poverty is an environmental issue
A survey from Cornell researchers -- conducted among more than 1,100 US residents -- found that there were, in fact, demographic differences in how people viewed environmental issues, with racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income people more likely to consider human factors such as racism and poverty as environmental, in addition to more ecological issues like toxic fumes from factories or car exhaust.

Poverty associated with suicide risk in children and adolescents
Between 2007 to 2016, nearly 21,000 children ages 5-19 years old died by suicide.

New index maps relationships between poverty and accessibility in Brazil
Poor transportation availability can result in poor access to health care and employment, hence reinforcing the cycle of poverty and concerning health outcomes such as low life expectancy and high child mortality in rural Brazil.

Repeated periods of poverty accelerate the ageing process
People who have found themselves below the relative poverty threshold four or more times in their adult life age significantly earlier than others.

Poverty as disease trap
The realities of subsistence living in a region of Senegal hard hit by schistosomiasis make reinfection likely, despite mass drug administration.

Persistent poverty affects one in five UK children
Persistent poverty affects one in five children in the UK, and is associated with poor physical and mental health in early adolescence, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome.

Satellite images reveal global poverty
How far have we come in achieving the UN's sustainable development goals that we are committed to nationally and internationally?

Read More: Poverty News and Poverty Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.