A new study found alarming discoveries regarding primates, humans’ closest biological relatives. The future is not so bright for gorillas, monkeys, and other apes, since they are threatened with extinction.
The study, published Wednesday in the Science Advances journal, found that almost 60 percent of all 504 species of primates are in danger of extinction. The populations of three quarters of all these primates are declining. The threat was caused by unsustainable human activities.
Scientists predicted that the human population would grow between 2010 and 2050 from 5.1 billion to 7.3 billion. This will bring terrible consequences on the monkey populations. The increasing processes of agriculture are threatening the natural habitats of the primates.
Approximately 76 percent of primate species are in danger because of farming and ranching. Another 60 percent are threatened by logging. The massive clearing of forests put primates in danger not only by the destruction of their habitat, but they also become more vulnerable to hunters.
The main regions inhabited by primates are the forested areas and they are native to 90 countries. However, two thirds of all primate populations are to be found in Brazil, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Madagascar.
Primates are most threatened in Madagascar, where 87 percent of the population is in danger of extinctions. Then comes Asia, with 73 percent of threatened primates, and mainland Africa, with 37 percent. Of all these species, the Hainan gibbon is almost extinct. Reports show that only 30 specimens of Hainan gibbon are found in wild China. Also, four of the seven species of great apes (gorillas, orangutans) are endangered.
The disappearance of entire species can have consequences on the entire ecosystem. The massive hunting of a species of gibbon in Thailand caused negative effects to a tree that was dependent on the gibbon to disperse its seeds.
If we do not take action quickly, it might be too late for some primate species. Humans must change their destructive behavior and lower their birth rate, combat poverty, and improve the public health system. Thus, we would be able to help the primates, too.
Also, we should aim to increase the number of wildlife sanctuaries and refuges, especially in Asia and Africa. Environmental organizations everywhere are trying to raise awareness on the damages we are producing to primate populations so that we can change our behavior and prevent them from going extinct.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons