The world’s apes and monkeys are in serious trouble.
About 60% of Earth’s non-human primate species, including apes, monkeys, gorillas, gibbons and lemurs, are threatened with extinction and about 75% have declining populations, according to a study published Wednesday.
“This truly is the 11th hour for many of these creatures,” said University of Illinois anthropology professor Paul Garber, who co-led the study.
In the case of the Hainan gibbon, a species of ape in China, fewer than 30 animals remain on the planet. The population of the Grauer’s gorilla fell from 17,000 in the mid-90s to around 3,800 today, mainly from hunting and mining, the study said. And 22 out of the 26 primate species in China are endangered, Garber said.
Those and many other species will disappear in the next 25 years unless conservation becomes a global priority, Garber said. Of the 500 species of primates in the world, about 300 are threatened or endangered.
Humanity’s population expansion is the main cause for the extinction threat, with 5 billion humans living in countries with primates. Habitat loss due to logging, mining and agriculture; hunting; the illegal pet trade; and climate change are all top reasons for the decline, Garber said. “Most of this has gone on in the past 100 years,” he added.
The study, which involved dozens of authors from around the world, is the most comprehensive review of the world’s primates ever conducted, the researchers say.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Doyle Rice