World's Most Endangered Primates

The world's 25 most endangered primates include four apes, 14 monkeys, and seven lemurs and their relatives.

Altogether, 18 countries in Africa, Asia and South America have at least one of these threatened primate species.

Nearly half of the rare and critically endangered animals are concentrated in Madagascar, Vietnam or Indonesia. Each of these countries hosts three or four species on the list.

The list of the world's most endangered primates was published in 2007 by a group of leading primatologists. Their cap of 25 species and subspecies is an arbitrary number that leaves out many more primates in peril.

Asia has eleven species on the list. But the list's authors point out that another 40 primate species on the continent are just as threatened as those they've highlighted. These creatures suffer from assorted human activities: subsistence hunting, habitat destruction, and collecting of animal body parts for potions, jewellery and delicacies.

There are also many more African primates that ought to be on the most endangered list. Red colobus monkeys have particularly suffered because they're targeted by hunters and can't survive in damaged forests. Five subspecies of red colobus in West Africa are close to extinction. Two of these may already be gone, as scientists haven't seen them in 25 years.

The more investigating that researchers do into wildland remnants and animal characteristics, the more biological diversity they uncover. New primates continue to be discovered. Between 1990 and 2007, scientists described 71 primates for the first time. More than half of the new animals live only in Madagascar.

Many of these species escaped earlier notice because they're rare, and so were endangered from the day they were recognized. The kipungi from Tanzania, first found by scientists in 2003, is one example of a new monkey included on the list of most endangered primates.

Lists of Endangered Primates


Russell A. Mittermeier, Jonah Ratsimbazafy, Anthony B. Rylands, Liz Williamson, John F. Oates, David Mbora, Jörg U. Ganzhorn, Ernesto Rodríguez-Luna, Erwin Palacios, Eckhard W. Heymann, M. Cecília M. Kierulff, Long Yongcheng, Jatna Supriatna, Christian Roos, Sally Walker and John M. Aguiar. 2007. Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2006 - 2008. Primate Conservation. (22): 1-40.

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