The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates

The blue-eyed black lemur is an endangered species in Madagascar.
The blue-eyed black lemur is an endangered species in Madagascar.

Nearly half of all non-human primates in the world are staring at extinction. In fact, in some areas of the world, the threat to the primates has reached a critical point and urgent measures need to be taken to ensure their continued existence. In Cambodia and Vietnam for instance, nine of ten species of primates are listed as either Vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN's Red List.

Why Are Primates Endangered?

Primates are endangered not because of natural death but due to human activities. Human activities include destruction of habitat, poaching, and being kept as pets. As human populations rise, the natural environment gives way for agricultural and commercial purposes. Logging and clearing land for agricultural purpose leaves primates without a natural environment and leads to a conflict that humans are yet to lose. Habitat loss is rampant in South East Asia where forest land is often cleared for palm oil plantations. In other parts of the world, primates are a source of food. They are hunted for bushmeat. As the habitat lose increase, the primates have nowhere to hide and became easier target.

Every year thousands of primates are captured from wild habitats and sold as exotic pets. Unfortunately, most of the targeted animals die during capture or while in transportation. The ones that make it to their owners live in the solitary life of captivity. They are often subjected to poor living conditions and die within a short time.

Recovery Measures

Despite the decreasing numbers, scientists continue to discover more species of primates. Most of the new discoveries are done in environments less impacted by human activities. From 2000, 53 new species have been discovered. 40 of the discoveries were made in the remote parts of Madagascar. The greater bamboo lemur was once thought to be on the brink of extinction, about 100 were known to inhabit the wild but discoveries in the forests of Madagascar from 2007 onwards have lowered their status from critically endangered to endangered. Other measures undertaken by researchers include breeding of primates in captivity and rehabilitating them back into the wild. The gold lion tamarin and the black lion tamarin of Brazil are such a success story.

The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates

RankSpeciesScientific NameLocation(s)IUCN status
1Bioko red colobusPiliocolobus pennantii pennantiiEquatorial GuineaEndangered
2Blue-eyed black lemurEulemur flavifronsMadagascarCritically endangered
3Brown spider monkeyAteles hybridusColombia/VenezuelaCritically endangered
4Brown-headed spider monkeyAteles fusciceps fuscicepsEcuadorCritically endangered
5Delacour's langurTrachypithecus delacouriVietnamCritically endangered
6Eastern black crested gibbonNomascus nasutusChina/VietnamCritically endangered
7Eastern lowland gorillaGorilla beringei graueriDemocratic Republic of the CongoEndangered
8Golden-headed langurTrachypithecus poliocephalus poliocephalusVietnamCritically endangered
9Grey-shanked doucPygathrix cinereaVietnamCritically endangered
10IndriIndri indriMadagascarCritically endangered
11Javan slow lorisNycticebus javanicusIndonesiaEndangered
12Kaapori capuchinCebus kaaporiBrazilCritically endangered
13Madame Berthe's mouse lemurMicrocebus berthaeMadagascarEndangered
14Northern brown howlerAlouatta guariba guaribaBrazilCritically endangered
15Northern sportive lemurLepilemur septentrionalisMadagascarCritically endangered
16Pig-tailed langurSimias concolorIndonesiaCritically endangered
17Pygmy tarsierTarsius pumilusIndonesiaData deficient
18Red ruffed lemurVarecia rubraMadagascarCritically endangered
19Rio Mayo titiCallicebus oenanthePeruCritically endangered
20Roloway monkeyCercopithecus rolowayCôte d'Ivoire/GhanaEndangered
21Rondo dwarf galagoGalagoides rondoensisTanzaniaCritically endangered
22Silky sifakaPropithecus candidusMadagascarCritically endangered
23Tana River red colobusProcolobus rufomitratusKenyaEndangered
24Tonkin snub-nosed monkeyRhinopithecus avunculusVietnamCritically endangered
25Western purple-faced langurTrachypithecus vetulus nestorSri LankaCritically endangered

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