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Why are primates endangered?
Around the globe almost half of all primate species are threatened with extinction as a result of human activity. The main threats this group faces are habitat destruction, poaching, the illegal pet trade, and disease.
Status Of Feature Species:
Loss Of Habitat
Habitat loss and fragmentation pose a major threat to primates. In some areas, human expansion into primate habitat causes conflict and pushes animals into less suitable areas. In many areas primate habitat is being cleared for commercial logging and agriculture leaving primates with no place to go. This is especially problematic in SE Asia where land is being logged or burned and cleared to make way for palm oil plantations leaving orangutans with nowhere to go or killed in fires. Mining also poses a threat to primate habitat.
The bushmeat trade is a global threat and continues to be a serious threat to primates. Once remote populations of primates are now more accessible as their habitat shrinks and humans gain access to once remote areas via logging roads etc. Although not historically a major target of the bushmeat trade, this threat is increasing for primates such as gorillas as humans gain access to their habitat.
Exotic Pet Trade
Tens of thousands of primates are captured and sold as exotic pets each year. Unfortunately, many of these animals will die during the capture and transport process. Others are condemned to a life in captivity, often living in poor conditions. Infant primates are often the target of this industry and as a result, multiple adult animals are killed to gain access to them. The illegal trade of wildlife is a multi-billion dollar industry and is second only to the global black market drug trade.
Diseases can be transmitted between humans and non-human primates. As human settlements encroach on primate habitat, primates are driven into smaller areas, increasing their exposure to humans as well as other primates, increasing their likelihood of contracting infectious diseases. Tourism to primate habitat also poses a threat and must be done carefully to ensure the safety of primates like gorillas against infectious disease. The exotic pet trade also poses a threat to human health as primates can transmit diseases such as Ebola, tuberculosis, and other viral infections.