Friday, 26 October 2007

A third of primates face extinction

Almost a third of the world's primates are in danger of extinction because of destruction of their habitats, a report by conservation groups has warned.

The report says many apes, monkeys and other primates are being driven from the forests where they live or killed to make food and medicines.

The research is being presented at the International Primatological Society (IPS) on the Chinese island of Hainan.

It was compiled by a team of 60 experts led by the World Conservation Union.

Asia threat

The report focuses on the fate of the world's 25 most endangered primate species, which are threatened by a depressing list of problems.

The authors say all the surviving members of these species combined would fit in a single football stadium.

Of particular concern are the Hainan gibbon from China and Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey from Ivory Coast, both of which have only a few surviving creatures left in the wild.

The report says the threat to primates is worst in Asia where tropical forests are being destroyed and many monkeys are being hunted or traded as pets.

It also argues that climate change is making some species more vulnerable.

Scientists have been warning for decades about the growing human threat to animal species around the world, but this study says we should be especially concerned about primates because they are the closest living relatives of humans.