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Primates are a group of animals that include lemurs, monkeys, apes as well as humans. They have few characteristic features such as five fingers, common pattern of teeth and an unspecialized body plan. Besides, they possess a large brain as well as visual sensitivity. Likewise, many species have opposing thumbs. All primates except apes and humans have tails.


WSO – Friend of the Earth has launched a petition to STOP using endangered lemurs in Madagascar as a tourist attraction! 

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The Problem

Several factors are contributing towards the descending trend of primate population. First and foremost, various unsustainable agricultural practices are causing most damages.

Secondly, biological resource-related matters such as hunting, trapping, logging and wood harvesting, etc. are contributing significantly towards this end as well.

Other human activities that are leading to habitat shifting or degradation of many of the species include urbanization, industrialization, tourism and recreational activities, construction of roads/railway/utility and service lines, mining, oil and gas drilling, etc.

Lastly, factors such as invasive alien species, problematic native species and pathogenic diseases are worrying aspects.

Environmental Consequences

As per IUCN data, there are 450 species of primates worldwide all of which are members of terrestrial habitats. 429 of these species dwell in the forest while the number of species living in artificial/terrestrial areas, savanna and shrubland are 86, 57 and 26 respectively.

At present, a significant proportion of the total species amounting to 375 are currently collapsing in numbers. The Sub-Saharan African region is the home to highest numbers of these species which is 146. It is followed by South America and South/Southeast Asia which accounts for 104 and 93 of the species respectively.

Another 20 of the species are from East Asia. Madagascar is currently at the top of the list with 99 of these species suffering due to plummeting population. Brazil and Indonesia also have high numbers of these species which are 77 and 48 respectively. Other countries of concern are Peru (32), Colombia (30), Vietnam (21), India (21), Malaysia (20), China (20), Congo (16) and Nigeria (13).

14.4% and 27.8% of the species are classified as critically endangered and endangered respectively whereas another 17.6% are vulnerable. Madagascar houses most numbers of critically endangered and endangered species which is 70. Indonesia is next with 24 of the species which only two more than that of Brazil. Other noteworthy countries are Vietnam and China consisted of 15 and 14 of these species respectively. Two species namely the Jamaican monkey and Large Sloth Lemur became extinct already.

Possible Solutions

The critically endangered and endangered primates could be protected by taking several steps.

Firstly, site/area protection and management, resource and habitat protection, habitat and natural process restoration would ensure their continued breeding and propagation.

Besides, sustainable agricultural, forestry and industrialization activities need to be limited by introducing appropriate laws and regulations as part of species management.

In addition, developing national conservation parks and rescue centers would be essential in areas of concern for species recovery. For example, the Kibale National Park, Uganda is a protected area in Sub-Saharan Africa which is home to 13 primate species.

Likewise, species re-introduction should be carried out by establishing ex-situ conservation facilities such as captive/artificial breeding.

Furthermore, 150 countries around the world have signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which is aimed at prevention of wild species trading such as monkey in case their survival is under threat and these regulations need to be implemented fully. Some species of the primates included in CITES list now are Coiba Island Howler Monkey, Lion Tamarins, Gray Langur, dwarf lemurs Eastern Gorilla, Slow Lorises, etc.

Last but not least, awareness should be spread on various threatened species through formal education, training and campaigns in social/print/visual media.

WSO's Activities and Initiatives

WSO Friend of the Earth project is acting to save endangered primates in the following ways:

  • Certifying and promoting products from sustainable agriculture and farming.
  • Launching a petition.
  • Organize and attend various seminars, symposiums, conferences, etc. to inform the local communities about threatened primate species and their role in data collection and vigilance against illegal trading of these species.
  • Launch awareness campaign in or similar platforms.

Call to action

  • Choose Friend of the Earth certified products from sustainable agriculture
  • Sign Friend of the Earth Lemurs Petition
  • Vote for political leadership at council, state and federal level who strong policies towards environmental sustainability such as saving threatened primate species and would implement these policies or willing to introduce even vigorous ones if elected.

Allocate sufficient funding for research on conservation biology, ecology, evolution related to primate species.

Online Petition

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