Twenty-five primates at risk of extinction, says report

Most are under threat as a result of human destruction of forests, poaching and illegal wildlife trade... Twenty-five species of apes, monkeys and lemurs urgently need protection against extinction, says a report from international conservation groups issued Monday.

Many of the primates from the Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey to the eastern black-crested gibbon in China and Vietnam, are under threat as a result of human destruction of forests, poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

The study says that five of the 25 most endangered primates are from Africa, six from the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, nine from Asia and five from South America, including the Ka'apor capuchin monkey in Brazil.

"The closest living relatives of mankind ... are on the verge of extinction and require urgent conservation measures," warned the report done by groups such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Lemurs in Madagascar are among the most threatened after years of political instability on the island, said Christoph Schwitzer, head of research at the  Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, one of the study authors.

"The rarest lemur, the northern sportive lemur, is now reduced to 19 animals known in nature," said the report, presented to coincide with a meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, India.

The pygmy tarsier in Sulawesi, Indonesia, was known from only three museum specimens until 2008, but since then four others were found in the wild.

Scientists said that the conservation of primates, of which there are 633 known species, it is important for nature.

Primates "often serve as seed dispersers and help maintain the diversity of the forest," said Russell Mittermeier, member of the IUCN, primate specialist and president of Conservation International.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey