Nearly 50% of the world's primates face extinction report says

According to a newly released report by the IUCN Primate Specialist Group says that "almost 50 percent of the world's primates are in danger of extinction." The report points out that habitat destruction and hunting are the two main threats.

"We've raised concerns for years about primates being in peril, but now we have solid data to show the situation is far more severe than we imagined," said Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International (CI) and the longtime chairman of the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Primate Specialist Group. "Tropical forest destruction has always been the main cause, but now it appears that hunting is just as serious a threat in some areas, even where the habitat is still quite intact. In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction."

The new analysis reveals that:

  • Over 70% of Asian primates are threatened with extinction, and at least two dozen taxa are Critically Endangered.
  • Virtually all gibbons are threatened with extinction — and one of the rarest subspecies, the Yunnan white-handed gibbon, may already be extinct.
  • All great apes — all gorillas, all chimpanzees, all orangutans, all bonobos — are either Endangered or Critically Endangered.
  • Across all primate taxa, a full 48% are threatened — nearly half of all primates, in harm's way and likely to go extinct in our own lifetime.

And just in time for the release of this depressing report the Associated Press reports that President George Bush is "proposing changes that would allow federal agencies to decide for themselves whether subdivisions, dams, highways and other projects have the potential to harm endangered animals and plants."

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Simon Leufstedt
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