A new report has preservationists scrambling. The Independent reports that an international coalition claims that as much as 48 percent of the world’s 634 primate species are threatened with extinction. The group just released a list of the top 25 most endangered primates. 

How has this happened? Destruction of tropical forests, illegal hunting and poachers have contributed to the rapid decline of indigenous primate populations around the globe. The report calls on governments around the world to take serious action against mass extinction. Otherwise, our closest relatives in nature will soon be gone.

About 85 different primatologists participated in this report, as well as conservation groups like the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Conservation International, and the International Primatological Society. The Guardian reports that researchers studied five primate species from Madagascar, six from Africa, 11 from Asia, and three from Central and South America. They determined that all of these species are under great distress and need immediate help to survive.

Christoph Schwitzer, one of the authors of the report, is the head of research at the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation. As he told the Guardian, "All over the world, it's mainly habitat destruction that affects primates the most." What he says next is disturbing. "Illegal logging, fragmentation of forests through fires, hunting is a big issue in several African countries and also now in Madagascar. In Asia one of the main problems is trade in hearts for traditional medicine, mainly into China."

And just which animals are being assaulted? The northern sportive lemurs left in Madagascar number only around 100. The Simakobu monkey of the Indonesian islands numbers 3,300. Only 320 Delacour's langurs remain in Vietnam. And the famous Sumatran orangutan numbers around 6,600.

On the bright side, a few conversation efforts have had some success. The Guardian reports that black lion tamarin was moved from "critically endangered" to "endangered" because of conversation efforts. Further, the United Nations has proposed a plan to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries. This would significantly help endangered species.

Dr. Russell Mittermeier is the chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN. As he tells The Independent, "The purpose of our Top 25 list is to highlight those that are 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.”

For further reading: