Will Human Beings Save Their Primate Cousins?

There are less than 300 Cross River gorillas in the wild.

At the time this was written there were 6,803,449,018 human beings on the planet. Right now, there are about 3,300 simakobu monkeys left in the dwindling forests of Indonesia; Less than 300 Cross River gorillas in the hills of Nigeria; Just about 110 black crested gibbons in Asia; No more than 100 sportive lemurs left in Madagascar; And fewer than 70 golden-headed langur left in the jungles of Vietnam. These are just a few of the incredibly endangered primates listed by scientists as being in need of immediate attention, lest they be lost forever. In fact, 48 percent of primates are threatened with that fate.

Oh, now there's 6,803,451,145 human beings on Earth.

Scientists Highlight Top 25 Threatened Primates
Today, scientists concerned about the precarious state of primate populations gathered to highlight the 25 most endangered species. Still, there are a little over 630 primate species, and more than 300 are threatened with extinction.

Dr Russell Mittermeier, chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN):

The purpose of our Top 25 list is to highlight those that are most at risk, to attract the attention of the public, to stimulate national governments to do more, and especially to find the resources to implement desperately needed conservation measures.

One More Push to Save These Species from Extinction
Zoologists have been aware of these highly endangered species for quite some time, but a lack of awareness has been the biggest hurdle to slowing population declines. According to Mittermeier, "We have the resources to address this crisis, but so far, we have failed to act."

The list of the 25 primates most in need of attention was compiled by 85 experts from throughout the world, revealed today at Bristol Zoo in the UK. Many of the primate species are not household names, and sadly that fact tends to make the prospect of their extinction less troubling to some--while being an equally devastating loss in terms of biodiversity.

Scientists outlined their mission on the IUCN Web site:

From the Atlantic Forest of Brazil to the monsoon slopes of Madagascar, from the mountains of southwest China to the islands of Mentawai, these primates are caught between fading hope and hard oblivion. And if through our failure of action they should cease to exist, we will have lost our nearest companions--and a part of ourselves--from what wilderness remains in the world.

A Human Cause. A Human Cure?
While the populations of some primates can be naturally small, human activities--particularly deforestation, development, and poaching--have driven many to the brink of extinction. The immediate termination of these activities and a raised awareness of the unique species threatened by them may be the only thing to preserve them.

Humans, as a species, have met unprecedented success in their brief reign as Earth's most dominant primate--enough to wipe out other species entirely. Perhaps now the most impressive display of our cunning and ability would be to keep that from happening to our closest genetic relatives.

After all, there's only about 70 golden-headed langurs left.

And, let's see, now there's 6,803,456,127 of us.

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Tags: Animals | Biodiversity | Conservation | Endangered Species | Extinction