Human activities are putting the world’s primates at risk of extinction because commodity export is causing the loss of their habitat, according to experts.
Between 2001 to 2015, they estimated that 160 million hectares of forest were lost in the tropics due to human activities.
Expansion of agriculture and of extractive industries like mines and the growth of infrastructure to support these activities lead to widespread primate degradation.
The consumption of food and natural resources, along with an increasingly globalised economy has created an expanding market for agricultural products.
Therefore forests are being converted to agricultural fields, cattle pastures, mines to extract minerals and metals, fossil fuel exploration, and urbanisation.
Alarmingly, around 60 per cent of primate species are now threatened with extinction and 75 per cent have declining populations.
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Expanding global commodities trade and consumption place the world’s primates at risk of extinction. Here, photos of selected primate species impacted by forest loss and degradation resulting from production of forest-risk commodities
The researchers, from the University of Illinois, found that growing market demands for food and nonfood commodities from high-income nations and the global community are significant drivers of rapid and widespread primate habitat loss and degradation.
Escalating pressure for this demand results in deforestation, habitat degradation, and spatial conflict between an expanding human population and primates.
Such growth is also reflected in the growth of the area of deforestation that is commodity driven. Available evidence indicates that between 2001 to 2015.
160 million hectares of forest were lost in the tropics due to human activities and that 50 per cent or more of this loss was commodity driven.
Human activities are putting the world’s primates at risk of extinction because of the loss of their habitat, according to experts. Researchers have found that 50 per cent or more of this habitat loss was due to global consumer demand for commodities
This is a result of escalating pressures resulting in deforestation, habitat degradation, and increased spatial conflict between an expanding human population and the natural range of primates
Given that global commodity resource extraction is predicted to more than double, from 85bn tonnes today to 186bn by the year 2050.
This reverses the current trend of primate population decline and extinction due to habitat loss and degradation will require a stronger global resolve to reduce the world’s per capita demand for forest-risk food and nonfood commodities from primate-range regions, while at the same time implementing sustainable land use practices that improve the standard of living for local human communities, protect local biodiversity, and mitigate climate change.
In order to avoid the impending extinction of the world´s primates, the researchers suggest using less oil seed and eating less meat.
The study finds that growing market demands for food and nonfood commodities from high-income nations and the global community at large are significant drivers of rapid and widespread primate habitat loss and degradation
They also recommend the creation of an international environmental improvement fund to mitigate the negative effects of forest-risk commodities trade, and assigning responsibility for environmental damage to those international corporations that control production, export, and supply chains.
‘Growing global consumer demands for food and non-food commodities from primate range regions are placing primate populations at risk of extinction.
‘These increasing demands have resulted in an accelerated global expansion of agriculture and of extractive industries and in the growth of infrastructure to support these activities leading to widespread primate habitat loss and degradation.’
‘Primates and their habitats are a vital component of the world’s natural heritage and culture and as our closest living biological relatives, nonhuman primates deserve our full attention, concern, and support for their conservation and survivorship’, the authors said.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal
WHY ARE PRIMATE NUMBERS DECLINING IN THE WILD?
A study published in January 2017 warned that for most of the world’s 504 primate species, it is now ‘the 11th hour’ on earth – with nearly two thirds facing extinction and 75 per cent of populations in decline.
Researchers have warned the world’s primates are in danger from human activities
Behind the collapse in numbers is an increase in industrial agriculture, large-scale cattle ranching, logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, dam building and road construction.
The illegal trade in bushmeat – killing apes and monkeys for their flesh – is also decimating the animals, as is changing climates and diseases spread from humans to apes.
Growing trees to produce palm oil – used in many popular foods – is a particular threat to primates in Indonesia, as is mining for gold and sapphires in Madagascar.
With many species living in rainforests, the cutting down of millions of acres of forest to supply the increasing demand for timber or to clear land for agriculture is destroying their habitat and making populations more fragmented.