World's Primates Facing Extinction Crisis, New Report Says

Manila Bulletin, January 19, 2017 | Go to article overview

World's Primates Facing Extinction Crisis, New Report Says


By Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Gorillas, monkeys, lemurs and other primates are in danger of becoming extinct, and scientists say it's our fault that our closest living relatives are in trouble, a new international study warns.

About 60 percent of the more than 500 primate species are "now threatened with extinction" and 3 out of 4 primate species have shrinking populations, according to a study published in Wednesday's journal Science Advances .

While scientists had tracked dwindling numbers of individuals and groups of primates in forests around the world, this is the first big-picture look. The result was "a bigger wake-up call" than previously thought, said researcher Paul Garber of the University of Illinois.

"The outlook is not very good," said Garber, who recently returned from the jungles of Brazil studying marmosets.

The decline has been blamed on human activities including hunting, mining and oil drilling. Logging, ranching and farming have also destroyed precious habitat in Africa, Asia and South America.

Primates, which include apes, monkeys and humans, have forward-facing eyes and grasping ability that set them apart from other mammals. Scientists study them to learn about human behavior and evolution.

Much of the problems faced by primates are recent. For example, the Grauer's gorilla dropped from a population of 17,000 in 1995 to just about 3,800 now, mostly from bushmeat hunting and mineral mining, the study found. …

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