Primates face greater extinction threat than any other large mammal group

Common squirrel monkey

Primates such as this common squirrel monkey in Amazonia are severely threatened by the destruction of tropical forests. (© Nick Fox)

New research paints a dark picture for the future of non-human primates: 63 percent of the world’s primate species are currently threatened with extinction.

The paper, which was published in Science Advances and included Conservation International Executive Vice Chair Russ Mittermeier and Senior Research Scientist Anthony Rylands as coauthors, listed the destruction of tropical forests as the main threat to primates, 90 percent of which live in this biome.

But as Mittermeier and Rylands wrote in this op-ed on Mongabay, there is reason for hope. The world did not lose a single primate species or subspecies in the 20th century — and reversing trends in species numbers is possible.

“We need effective protection of habitat through government-level national parks, biological reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, and indigenous lands of many different categories, and these need to be complemented by private and community-managed reserves, which in some places are more effective than those managed by governments. Where these exist, there needs to be a major effort to ensure that they are run well and that their biodiversity-protection objectives are fully met. Where coverage of remaining habitat is incomplete or inadequate, more protected areas need to be created and funded.”

Read the full story on Mongabay, or watch a one-minute video on the subject below.

Molly Bergen is the senior managing editor of Human Nature. 

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