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Experts Warn That Over Half Of World's Primates Are Near Extinction

Update Date: Nov 25, 2015 08:37 AM EST

Even as humans destroy their habitats, half the world's primates are on the verge of becoming extinct, said experts in a report Tuesday.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species said, in "Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2014-2016," that burning and clearing tropical forests, hunting primates and the illegal wildlife trade are contributing to their decimation.

"This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world's primates," said Christoph Schwitzer, a primatologist and director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society who helped compile the list, according to The Daily Mail.

Those who are counted among the 25 most threatened include five primate species from Madagascar, five from continental Africa, 10 from Asia and five from Central and South America, according to Xinhua.

"The purpose of our Top 25 list is to highlight those primates most at risk, to attract the attention of the public, to stimulate national governments to do more, and especially to find the resources to implement desperately needed conservation measures. In particular, we want to encourage governments to commit to desperately needed biodiversity conservation measures," said Russell Mittermeier, chair of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group.

The Hainan gibbon are among the most endangered. Among them an estimated 25 are left in the wild on Hainan Island, China. The second most endangered species is the Northern sportive lemur from Madagascar, with just 50 left in the wild.

Other endangered species include the 60 Cat Ba langurs on Cat Ba Island in Vietnam, the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar, Grauer's gorilla, the Northern brown howler monkey, the red colobus monkey and the Sumatran orangutan according to AFP.

There are just 703 primate species and sub-species remaining in the wild.

"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, such as the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar - a species only discovered two years ago - or the Roloway monkey from Ghana and Ivory Coast, which we believe is on the very verge of extinction," Schwitzer said. "Some of these animals have tiny populations remaining in the wild and support and action to help save them is vital if we are to avoid losing these wonderful animals forever. This report makes scary reading for primatologists and the public alike, and highlights where we as conservationists must focus our attention over the coming years."

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