Extinction threat grows for primates

Aug. 5, 2008 at 11:49 PM

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Conservationists meeting in Scotland said almost 50 percent of the world's monkeys, apes and other primates are in danger of becoming extinct.

Habitat destruction, hunting primates for food and illegal wildlife trade are the main threats, Conservation International said Tuesday.

The report, presented at the 22nd International Primatological Society Congress, said more than 70 percent of primates in Asia are classified on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List as "Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered."

"We've raised concerns for years about primates being in peril, but now we have solid data to show the situation is far more severe than we imagined," Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International, said in a statement. "Tropical forest destruction has always been the main cause, but now it appears that hunting is just as serious a threat in some areas, even where the habitat is still quite intact. In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction."

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