Primates facing extinction crisis: Study

A new international study warns that about 60 per cent of more than 500 primate species are threatened with extinction. It also claimed that three out of four primate species have shrinking populations. The study was recently published in the journal Science Advances.

Key highlights of the study

  • The decline in the population of the primate species has been blamed on human activities including hunting, mining and oil drilling.
  • Logging and wood harvesting, ranching and farming have also contributed in destroying the habitat in Africa, Asia and South America.
  • Globally, agriculture is the principal threat to the primates. However, secondary threats vary by region. For instance, livestock farming and ranching negatively affect 59 per cent of primate species in the Neotropics.
  • On the other hand, long-term deforestation has resulted in the destruction of 58 per cent of subtropical and 46 per cent of tropical forests forcing primates to live in isolated forest patches. This, in turn, has led to population restructuring, loss of genetic diversity and decreasing numbers.
  • The study claims that much of the problems faced by primates are recent. For instance, the Grauer’s gorilla dropped from a population of about 17000 in 1995 to just about 3800 now, mostly from bushmeat hunting and mineral mining.
  • There are only around 14000 Sumatran orangutans left in the world.
  • Population of the Hainan gibbon in China has dropped to just 25 individuals. 22 out of the 26 primate species in China are endangered.
  • The study also reports that climate change may compel individuals to move out of protected areas, making them more vulnerable to hunting and other anthropogenic impacts.
  • The report also stated that about 94 per cent of the lemur species in the world are endangered, especially in Madagascar.

About Primates

  • A primate is a mammal of the order Primates. In taxonomy, primates include two distinct lineages, strepsirrhines and haplorhines.
  • Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment. Most primate species remain at least partly arboreal.
  • Most primates live in tropical orsubtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia. They range in size from Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, which weighs only 30 g (1 oz), to the eastern gorilla, weighing over 200 kg (440 lb); that is, without taking into account the weight of particular human individuals, reaching up to 635 kg.
  • Primates are characterized by large brains relative to other mammals, as well as an increased reliance onstereoscopic vision at the expense of smell, the dominant sensory system in most mammals. These features are more developed in monkeys and apes and noticeably less so in lorises and lemurs.
  • The earliest known true primates, represented by the genus Teilhardina, date to 55.8 million years old. An early close primate relative known from abundant remains is the Late Paleocene Plesiadapis, c. 55–58 million years old.
  • The order Primates was traditionally divided into two main groupings: prosimians and anthropoids (simians). Prosimians have characteristics more like those of the earliest primates, and include the lemurs of Madagascar, lorisoids, and tarsiers. Simians include monkeys, apes and hominins.

Source:The Hindu & Wiki

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