Primates facing extinction crisis: Study

Jan 20, 2017 15:17 IST

A new international study warns that about 60 per cent of more than 500 primate species are threatened with extinction. It also claimed that three out of four primate species have shrinking populations.

The study was recently published in the journal Science Advances.

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Key highlights of the study

The decline in the population of the primate species has been blamed on human activities including hunting, mining and oil drilling.

Logging and wood harvesting, ranching and farming have also contributed in destroying the habitat in Africa, Asia and South America.

Globally, agriculture is the principal threat to the primates. However, secondary threats vary by region. For instance, livestock farming and ranching negatively affect 59 per cent of primate species in the Neotropics.

On the other hand, long-term deforestation has resulted in the destruction of 58 per cent of subtropical and 46 per cent of tropical forests forcing primates to live in isolated forest patches. This, in turn, has led to population restructuring, loss of genetic diversity and decreasing numbers.

The study claims that much of the problems faced by primates are recent. For instance, the Grauer’s gorilla dropped from a population of about 17000 in 1995 to just about 3800 now, mostly from bushmeat hunting and mineral mining.

There are only around 14000 Sumatran orangutans left in the world.

Population of the Hainan gibbon in China has dropped to just 25 individuals. 22 out of the 26 primate species in China are endangered.

The study also reports that climate change may compel individuals to move out of protected areas, making them more vulnerable to hunting and other anthropogenic impacts.

The report also stated that about 94 per cent of the lemur species in the world are endangered, especially in Madagascar.

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