Primates in peril

TONKIN SNUB-NOSED MONKEY
TONKIN SNUB-NOSED MONKEYPHOTOS COURTESY OF WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
RED RUFFED LEMUR
RED RUFFED LEMUR PHOTOS COURTESY OF WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
LAC ALAOTRA BAMBOO LEMUR
LAC ALAOTRA BAMBOO LEMURPHOTOS COURTESY OF WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
ROLOWAY MONKEY
ROLOWAY MONKEYPHOTOS COURTESY OF WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
NORTHERN BROWN HOWLER
NORTHERN BROWN HOWLER PHOTOS COURTESY OF WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
PHILIPPINE TARSIER
PHILIPPINE TARSIERPHOTOS COURTESY OF WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

International experts have released a list of the world's 25 most endangered primates. Primates In Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates 2014-2016 was compiled by the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Species Survival Commission and other international conservation and research organisations. The list includes primate species from Madagascar, Africa, Asia and Central and South America. Asia alone has 10 of the 25 endangered species. Carolyn Khew takes a look at some of these animals and the threats they face.

TONKIN SNUB-NOSED MONKEY

The total population of this species is believed to be fewer than 250. Recent evidence also suggests that there are only five known locations in Vietnam where these monkeys occur, and these are completely isolated. Although this species is not usually hunted for bush meat due to its "foul taste", it is shot when encountered, and consumed or used in traditional medicine. It has been found in trade in China.

RED RUFFED LEMUR

Confined to parts of Madagascar, the primate is considered critically endangered based on suspected population reduction of at least 80 per cent over 24 years, primarily due to habitat loss and hunting. Measuring 50 to 55cm long, their relatively big size makes them vulnerable to being hunted. Remaining populations in the Masoala Peninsula in Madagascar are also threatened by frequent cyclones. It is estimated that there are 600 of these primates in captivity.

LAC ALAOTRA BAMBOO LEMUR

Conversion of marsh habitat to rice fields has been the most significant threat to this Madagascar species. Locals trap and hunt the wetland lemur with dogs or snares or use sticks to knock them into the water. Conservation efforts have made some headway but it remains critically endangered, with most recent population estimates ranging from 2,500 to 5,000.

ROLOWAY MONKEY

Destruction and degradation of habitat as well as hunting for the bush meat trade has reduced their population to small isolated pockets. Based on recent surveys, the primate has not been spotted in any reserves in Western Ghana and may have been eliminated from at least two forest areas in the Ivory Coast, where it used to be found.

NORTHERN BROWN HOWLER

Primary threats to the Brazil native include widespread forest loss and fragmentation due to logging and agriculture. Disease epidemics such as yellow fever could also be decimating this primate. A conservation project is now ongoing.

PHILIPPINE TARSIER

Deforestation has removed nearly all of the Philippine tarsier's original habitat in many places. It is estimated that 7 per cent of the Philippines remains forested. Another threat to this primate, cited for the first time, is the increased frequency and intensity of typhoons that come with global warming.

  • Additional information from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'Primates in peril'. Print Edition | Subscribe