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Primates of the World Heading Towards Extinction, says UN

Deforestation, Hunting Put Primates At Risk

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Common Dreams staff

The red ruffed lemur of Madagascar is among the 25 most endangered primates, according to the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)

Several species of apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates are "in very dire straights" and on the brink of extinction, the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity said Monday.

"Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2012-2014," reports that the animals are in need of urgent conservation measures to save them from extinction resulting from human activity such as destruction of tropical forests, illegal wildlife trade and commercial bush meat hunting.

Among the 25 are six species from Madagascar, five from Vietnam, three from Indonesia and two from Brazil.

Primates are a draw for ecotourism and help disperse seeds to maintain forest diversity.

Meeting in Hyderabad, India, the UN group highlighted the Pygmy Tarsier, ony found in museums until 2008 when three were captured and one was observed in the wild.

They also pointed to Madagascar's lemur population, 91 percent of which is near extinction.

"Once again, this report shows that the world’s primates are under increasing threat from human activities. Whilst we haven’t lost any primate species yet during this century, some of them are in very dire straits," Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, Head of Research at the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, said. "In particular the lemurs are now one of the world’s most endangered groups of mammals, after more than three years of political crisis and a lack of effective enforcement in their home country, Madagascar. A similar crisis is happening in South-East Asia, where trade in wildlife is bringing many primates very close to extinction."

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