PRIMATE CONSERVATION

Protecting Wildlife through Conservation Education

Nonhuman primates are indicator species of the health of their ecosystems. All are at risk as a result of habitat loss due to human activities. If their habitats are in danger, so too are all creatures with whom they share those habitats.

At New England Primate Conservancy, we raise awareness about the needs for primate protection, for those captive and wild. It is a reminder to leave wild animals in the wild, to preserve their habitats, and to be cognizant of the delicate balance of fauna and flora that supports healthy ecosystems—Mother Nature’s grand intelligent plan. It is the promise of hope for a better tomorrow. We encourage everyone to be part of the solution while there’s still time.

Poached to near extinction, little more than 65 Cat Ba langurs remain wild, restricted to eight square miles (20 square kilometers) of lime karst forest on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam.

Photo courtesy of ©Neahga Leonard, Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project

70% of the world’s populations of primate species are threatened by extinction. 43% are classified as Critically Endangered or Endangered. Some of the most critically endangered populations consist of just a few dozen individuals, some a few hundred, some a few thousand. These low population numbers, along with on-going loss of habitat, make these populations unsustainable without intervention. Let’s be clear. These problems are not the result of natural phenomena. They are due to human activities. Responsibility for the reversal of these losses, therefore, lies in the hands of those who caused them—humans. They require intense conservation measures.

As habitats shrink, competition for resources limits the number of individuals who can healthfully survive and thrive—setting off a domino effect of decline within the ecosystem. Loss of habitat leads to loss of lives; with food and shelter gone, so are the animals. And without the animals to provide crucial activities, such as enriching and fertilizing the soil through the course of their daily lives (seed dispersal through their feces, for example), environmental balance is disrupted.

Hunted to near extinction, 100-250 Cross River gorillas remain wild in fragmented forests surrounded by densely populated human settlements. Populations are decreasing.

In Mother Nature’s grand plan, each ecosystem includes exactly the right number, combination, and diversity of plants and animals to create beautiful, interdependent relationships. This interdependence is how and why biodiversity exists. Biodiversity, when left to its own devices, keeps the Earth and her creatures living and thriving.

As we continue the unnatural practices of cutting down rainforests for agriculture and urban development, the Earth loses her most precious resources: the trees that create our oxygen. Rainforests are the Earth’s lungs. Depletion of rainforests affects air quality globally. When rainforests decrease in size, when there are fewer trees, less oxygen is produced, putting all oxygen-dependent organisms—including us humans—at risk.

The overwhelming amounts of carbon released into the atmosphere through a variety of human activities further impact our world’s climate. These detrimental effects are occurring rapidly and can no longer be denied. We experience it every day.

Mountain gorilla populations were at a mere 425 members in 2000, teetering on the brink of extinction. Thanks to intense conservation efforts, populations are at over 1,000 individuals today and increasing. Conservation efforts work!

Now, here’s the good news! Because these destructive problems are due to human activities, they are preventable, repairable, and reversible. We each hold the key. The clock is ticking, and we must take action now to prevent further damage. We cannot and should not sit back and wait for someone else to do something. We must each be the change that we hope for. Millions of people making small daily lifestyle adjustments can and does result in tremendous global impact.

Who are we, after all, without all other animal species, whether primates or otherwise? We are one among many of the Earth’s citizens, a part of the planet’s interdependence. Each species—plant and animal—has its role in maintaining ecological balance. Some species will surely become extinct if we do not change our thoughts and practices around their importance to us and the effects of our daily choices on them.