Conservation International's list of the twenty-five most endangered primates includes the Greater bamboo and white-collared lemurs in Madagascar, along with the Sumatran orangutan and a recently discovered Indonesian tarsier. Only a few dozen of the most vulnerable species of listed gibbons and langurs remain, while Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey of West Africa may already be wiped out of existence.
"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," said Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservational International's Primate Specialist Group."In Central and West Africa primate meat ... is a luxury item for the elite. Here it's even more for medicinal purposes, with most of the more valuable species going to markets in southeastern China."
Mittermeier remarked that the loss of tropical forests and other primate habitats is a major concern in their long-term survival; yet, if reforestation projects were to be included in U.N. programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it could prove to be a "magnificent opportunity" to save both primates and sequester carbon.
He noted that local conservation action could prove just as effective: with only an estimated twenty of southwest China’s Hainan gibbon remaining, regional efforts to bolster their chances of survival could be seen as an example to be emulated elsewhere.
"What they have done, which I find really amazing, is they have local villagers following these groups on a daily basis," Mittermeier said. "We are looking now at applying that in Vietnam, in Madagascar and a few other places."
::Primates in Peril, Conservation International via ::Environmental News Network
See also ::Primates in Peril PDF, ::Major Campaign against Palm Oil, Destroyer of Orangutans
, ::Experts list 25 most endangered primates (see slide show on bushmeat)
Image: Ken Bohn