Photo Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society



According to analysis performed by the IUCN Species Survival Commission's (SSC) Primate Specialist Group (PSG), primates survive in the equatorial regions of three continents – from the rainforests of southern Mexico to the northern frontier of Argentina; from the great archipelago of Indonesia to the mountains of southwest China; and most spectacularly, throughout the ancestral immensity of Africa, from the sub-Saharan bushlands and savannas to the failing strongholds of the Congo Basin, and down to the fynbos scrub of farthest South Africa.

At present, primatologists recognize 496 species of primates, and a total of 695 species and subspecies overall. New species and subspecies are continually being described: 103 since 1990, 74 of them since 2000.

And many are in danger of extinction. A comprehensive study performed by the SSC PSG found that over 70% of Asian primates are threatened with extinction, and at least two dozen taxa are Critically Endangered. Virtually all gibbons are threatened with extinction — and one of the rarest subspecies, the Yunnan white-handed gibbon, may already be extinct.

All great apes — all gorillas, all chimpanzees, all orangutans, all bonobos — are either Endangered or Critically Endangered. Across all primate taxa, a full 48% are threatened — nearly half of all primates, in harm's way and likely to go extinct in our own lifetime.

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