The report called The Current Status of the World’s Primates states: “Our results confirmed that the majority of primate species are currently threatened and require urgent conservation attention.”
It says primate numbers, including those of gorillas and lemurs, are in decline because of hunting and loss of forests from logging and agriculture.
It continues: “We also found that two emerging threats, namely climate change and infectious diseases, are affecting a growing number of primate species.”
The study looked at 491 species of primates across Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Madagascar, drawing on the most recent information from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
It also examined almost 9,000 articles detailing the most recent threats to primates.
The report states: “Out of the 491 species of primates included in the IUCN Red List as of July 9, 2020, 319 were threatened with extinction.”
It points out that primates remain one of the most threatened groups of mammals on the planet with those in Asia and Madagascar at most risk.
They include blue-eyed black lemurs and cherry-crowned mangabey monkeys.
Primates are under siege from hunting, the pet trade, logging and non-timber crop production,” it states.
The study calls for action to combat other emerging threats such as climate change and infectious disease.
It concludes: “We must work to develop evidence-based conservation initiatives, to be able to meet the varied challenges facing primates around the world and reverse the trend of increasing rates of threatened species on the IUCN Red List.”
The study’s authors include Dr Grainne McCabe and Dr Daphne Kerhoas from Bristol Zoological Society, Dr David Fernández from the University of the West of England and Andrea Dempsey from West Africa Primate Conservation Action.
Bristol Zoological Society is leading a project which focuses on western lowland gorillas and their habitat in Monte Alén National Park, Equatorial Guinea – an area highlighted as critically important for the conservation of this species.
As well as studying gorilla population numbers and setting up camera traps, the Society is also helping to build a research base and supporting the recruitment, training and deployment of eco-guards in the national park.
And in northern Madagascar, in and around the Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park, the Society’s conservationists are trying to stem the decline in endangered lemur species, such as the blue-eyed black lemur.
Their strategy is to use a series of initiatives working with local people to monitor biodiversity and mitigate the threat of habitat loss.
Bristol, Clifton & West of England Zoological Society Ltd. Registered office: Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA. Company registered in England, number 5154176. Charity registered number 1104986.