Primate conservation efforts
Tecot, Stacey Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York.
Wright, Patricia C. Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York.
- Role of primates
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
In the 1960s, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species was created as a conservation tool to identify global extinction risk, while providing species-specific information on distribution, ecology, and threats to persistence. Today, at least 49% of all primate species are identified as threatened with extinction, a number higher than any other mammalian order (Fig. 1). In 1993, an assembly was held in Brazil to discuss the crisis of biodiversity loss, and outlined a plan of goals and strategies to help slow the losses. Using this as a guideline, primatologists began a major conservation effort in primate habitat countries. A series of primate action plans for specific geographical regions were created by the IUCN. Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) were funded in specific sites in Africa, South America, and Madagascar. Countrywide policies were developed, such as the Durban Vision in primate-rich Madagascar, in which promises were made by the government to triple the amount of protected areas in 6 years. Because of the more recent attention that climate change has garnered, an international meeting took place in Bali in December 2007. This meeting resulted in the formation of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Program), which hopes to reduce environmental degradation through funding initiatives to halt tropical forest burning and begin habitat restoration. To increase public awareness of the dire straits of some of our closest relatives, taxon-specific initiatives were also launched, such as “The 25 Most Critically Endangered Primates” list (Figs. 2a and 2b), which was first announced to the media in 2000 and updated every other year since then, and the UN Year of the Gorilla in 2009. All these efforts have helped bring the urgency of preserving primates and their habitats to the attention of governments and the public before it is too late. They have also changed the nature of primate conservation efforts. In addition to hands-on species-specific conservation consisting of evaluating and monitoring, other efforts include the heavy tasks of informing policy, delineating the boundaries of protected areas, gathering information from unexplored and remote regions, and even making difficult decisions about intervention (that is, translocations) in the face of habitat destruction. Primatologists have recently begun to employ new conservation tools that are proving essential for effective, measurable, and rapid results.
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