There are 703 species and sub-species of primates in the world, from apes to monkeys to lemurs. And more than half of them are facing extinction.
Most of the endangered statuses of these primates are caused by habitat loss and destruction, like burning forests, as well as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
Leading primatologist and director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society in Britain, Christoph Schwitzer says:
“This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world’s primates. We hope it will focus people’s attention on these lesser-known primate species, some of which most people will probably have never heard of.”
First timers on the most endangered list include the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa dwarf lemur from Madagascar – a species discovered just two years ago. Other primates on the list, like the Roloway monkey from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, are on the brink of extinction.
The red colobus monkey in Africa and some of South America’s howler monkeys and spider monkeys are also threatened. These species are larger primates, which makes them easy targets for bushmeat hunting.
“Some of these animals have tiny populations remaining in the wild. Support and action to help save them is vital if we are to avoid losing these wonderful animals forever.”
Here is the list of the 25 most endangered primates for 2014-2016, along with their estimated remaining population size. Five of the primates are from Madagascar, five from Africa, 10 from Asia, and five from Central and South America:
1. Lavasoa dwarf lemur – unknown
2. Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur – about 2,500-5,000
3. Red ruffed lemur – unknown
4. Northern sportive lemur – around 50
5. Perrier’s sifaka – 1,700-2,600
6. Rondo dwarf galago – unknown, but remaining habitat is just 40 square miles
7. Roloway monkey – unknown, but thought to be on the verge of extinction
8. Preuss’s red colobus monkey – unknown
9. Tana River red colobus monkey – 1,000 and declining
10. Eastern lowland gorilla – 2,000-10,000
11. Philippine tarsier – unknown
12. Javan slow loris – unknown
13. Pig-tailed langur – 3,300
14. Cat Ba langur (golden-headed langur) – 60
15. Delacour’s langur – 234-275
16. Tonkin snub-nosed monkey – less than 250
17. Kashmir grey langur – unknown
18. Western purple-faced langur – unknown
19. Hainan gibbon – 25
20, Sumatran orangutan – 6,600
21. Ka’apor capuchin – unknown
22. San Martin titi monkey – unknown
23. Northern brown howler monkey – less than 250 mature animals
24. Colombian brown spider monkey – unknown
25. Ecuadorian brown-headed spider monkey – unknown
The list comes from a report that was put together by the IUCN, Bristol Zoological Society, International Primatological Society and Conservation International and is updated every two years
As we venture farther into 2016, it’s always good to reflect back on the previous year. Today, we are reflecting on animals that were either declared endangered or were upgraded from endangered to critically endangered in 2015.
1. Mexican Wolf
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) declared the Mexican Wolf as endangered earlier in 2015. Over-hunting almost wiped out the entire population 40 years ago. Now, the Mexican Wolf has new protections to conserve this rare mammal.
The USFWS placed multiple species of sawfish on the endangered species list in 2015. Several populations have fallen victim to overfishing and negative human factors.
3. Steppe Eagle
The Steppe Eagle was upgraded to “endangered” this year by the IUCN because of changes to the raptor’s environment. Habitat disturbances, such as agricultural development and a veterinary drug spreading toxic effects through its ecosystem, have caused the eagle’s population to drastically drop.
4. New Zealand Sea Lion
The IUCN classified the New Zealand Sea Lion as endangered due to “fishing-related mortality” and other threats from disease and food limitations. It is one of the rarest sea lions in the world with a population of around 10,000 and decreasing.
5. White Headed Vulture
In 2015, the IUCN upgraded the status of the White Headed Vulture from threatened to critically endangered. The vulture’s population has declined because of human threats, including poisonings and persecution.
6. Great Green Macaw & Military Macaw
The USFWS listed both the Great Green Macaw and the Military Macaw as endangered in October, 2015. The two species’ already small populations are declining due to poaching and habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation.
7. Ishikawa’s Frog
The IUCN declared the Ishikawa’s Frog, a Japanese amphibian, as an endangered species in 2015. The frog population is in serious decline because of habitat loss from dam and road construction.
8. Honduran Emerald Hummingbird
The USFWS classified the Honduran hummingbird as endangered in 2015, which gives federal officials in the U.S. the authority to prosecute anyone smuggling the bird across the border. The population has dropped to 5,000-10,000 breeding pairs after facing habitat loss and other human-related changes.
9. Narrow-striped Mongoose (also known as Boky Boky)
In 2015, the IUCN placed the Narrow-striped Mongoose, also know as the boky boky, on the endangered list. The small Madagascan mammal’s population has been negatively affected by hunting, logging and several environmental factors.
10. Splendid Toadfish
The IUCN upgraded the Splendid Toadfish from threatened to endangered in 2015 because of tourism and over-fishing. It is a mud-dwelling fish that lives in the waters of Cozumel and Belize, but has experienced habitat loss with decreasing coral reefs.
Just 5 months after the death of Cecil the lion, the U.S. is making moves to protect lions all the way in Africa.
The U.S. plans to extend its endangered species protection to those big cats, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will classify lions in southern and eastern Africa as threatened and those in central and western Africa as fully endangered. This will put into practice tighter restrictions on the import of lion trophies and body parts.
This plan is significant because around 50% of all lion hunting in Africa is carried out by Americans. More than 5,600 lions have been poached and imported by American hunters in the last 10 years, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
With these new rules, people will be prohibited from bringing lion parts into the U.S. if the lion is from a country where they are endangered. In addition, any hunter that does bring a trophy in, will have to show that they were “legally obtained” from countries that have a “scientifically sound management program that benefits the subspecies in the wild.”
An international study found that the number of African lions have dropped by half since 1993 and are expected to decline another 50% the next 20 years in west, central and east Africa. Decreasing lion populations are caused by hunting, as well as habitat loss, and these new rules put the burden of proof on hunters.
Although lions are suffering these dramatic declines, they are only listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The organization estimates that there are around 20,000 lions total left in Africa.
Director of the FWS Dan Ashe says:
“The lion is one of the planet’s most beloved species and an irreplaceable part of our shared global heritage. If we want to ensure that healthy lion populations continue to roam the African savannas and forests of India, it’s up to all of us – not just the people of Africa and India – to take action. Sustainable trophy hunting as part of a well-managed conservation program can and does contribute to the survival of the species in the wild, providing real incentives to oppose poaching and conserve lion populations.”
The mountain gazelle – found in Israel, Golan Heights, Turkey and across the Arabian Peninsula – is now endangered. Or at least it should be, according to scientists who counted just 2,000 of the species after a drastic drop over the last 15 years.
Zoologists are recommending that this iconic mammal of the Middle East should be placed on the endangered list for protection. They fear that the tan, white and black gazelles could end up extinct like their closest relatives who once lived in Egypt and Syria.
The main causes of the decline in gazelle numbers are habitat loss, predators and car collisions. The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel said:
“The damage to the gazelle population stems from the chopping up of their habitats due to construction, paving of roads and erection of fences. They are also impacted by increased predation due to poor sanitation that facilitates growth in the number of predators and feral dogs. Animals are also killed by hunters and cars. It is therefore vital to maintain contiguous open areas and ecological corridors, especially in gazelle habitats. Unnecessary development in these areas should be avoided.”
This specific gazelle species is significant because it is thought to be unique to Israel and a few surrounding countries. According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the gazelle population in Israel declined from over 10,000 to just 3,000 in 2008 alone, a rapid decline that seems to be persistent. Moreover, only 200 of the gazelles are left in Turkey, leaving the population in Israel as the last significant one.
After the latest count, the IUCN reevaluated the gazelle, changing its status from “vulnerable” to “endangered.”
All chimpanzees – both in the wild and in captivity – are officially protected as “endangered species” under the Endangered Species Act.
This means it is now against the law to harm, harass, kill or injure any chimp, wild or captive. It brings an end to decades of exploitation and abuse, from using chimps in biomedical research and lab testing to using them as props for entertainment and selling them in the wildlife trade. All chimps will be sent to sanctuaries and rescue centers to spend the rest of their years in much better living conditions.
The rule follows a petition filed in 2010 by Dr. Jane Goodall, The Humane Society of the United States and other groups, to eliminate the distinction between the legal status of captive and wild chimps. Before, the former were listed as “threatened” while the latter were “endangered.” But the change became official on June 16 and went into effect on September 14, after a 90-day grace period.
So now, all chimps have the same protections under the Endangered Species Act, making Goodall – founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace and one of the biggest chimp-advocates – very happy. In a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release, Goodall said:
“I was so pleased to hear about the proposed rule. This is exceptional news for all chimpanzees and for all the petitioners, especially the Humane Society of the United States, who have worked so hard on this issue. This decision gives me hope that we truly have begun to understand that our attitudes toward treatment of our closest living relatives must change. I congratulate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this very important decision.”