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Madagascar lemurs from the cartoon Madagascar

The Hindu reported from the ongoing bio-diversity meeting in Hyderabad:

Twenty-five species of monkeys, langurs, lemurs and gorillas are on the brink of extinction and need global action to protect them from increasing deforestation and illegal trafficking, researchers said Monday.

Six of the severely threatened species live on the island nation of Madagascar, off southeast Africa. Five more from mainland Africa, five from South America and nine species in Asia are among those listed as most threatened.

The report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature was released at a biodiversity conference being held in Hyderabad.

Primates, mankind’s closest living relatives, contribute to the ecosystem by dispersing seeds and maintaining forest diversity.

Conservation efforts have helped several species of primates, which are no longer listed as endangered, said the report, prepared every two years by some of the world’s leading primate experts.

The report noted that Madagascar’s lemurs are severely threatened by habitat destruction and illegal hunting, which has accelerated dramatically since the change of power in the country in 2009.

Among the most severely hit was the Northern sportive lemur with only 19 known individuals left in the wild in Madagascar.

Scientific American adds:

“The rarest lemur, the northern sportive lemur, is now down to 19 known individuals in the wild,” said the report, presented to coincide with a meeting of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, India.

The pygmy tarsier in Sulawesi, Indonesia, was known only from three museum specimens until 2008, since when four others have been found in the wild.

The scientists said that conserving primates, of which there are 633 known species, was important for the wider fabric of nature.

Primates “often serve as seed dispersers and help to maintain forest diversity”, said Russell Mittermeier, a chair of the primate specialist group at the IUCN and president of Conservation International.

“It is increasingly being recognized that forests make a major contribution in terms of ecosystem services for people, providing drinking water, food and medicines,” he wrote.

The experts said there was some good news: no primate species has been lost to extinction in the 20th or 21st centuries. And numbers were rising for some, such as India’s lion-tailed macaque and Madagascar’s greater bamboo lemur.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 17, 2012 at 6:48 am

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