The plight of primates... 9000 killed for one bushmeat market

Why are our closest relatives, the primates, declining almost everywhere? 

Eying trouble ahead... night monkey in Peru. 

Eying trouble ahead... night monkey in Peru. 

In West Africa, for example, primate numbers are plummeting from the fatal one-two punch of deforestation and overhunting.  A recent study found that over 9000 dead primates are sold each year in a single bushmeat market in the Ivory Coast. 

And in Borneo and Sumatra, the iconic Orangutan continues to suffer widespread declines despite a high-profile pledge from the Indonesian President to stabilize its population--ostensibly using the scheme as a "blueprint" for conservation of other endangered wildlife in the country. 

Despite such rhetoric, habitat destruction continues apace in Indonesia.  The endangered Leuser Ecosystem of Sumatra--the focus of a recent ALERT press release--is the only place on Earth where the Orangutan still lives alongside Elephants, Rhinos, and Tigers.  But this forest is under assault from a massive road-building scheme and other development pressures (see blog below and please sign this petition).

Baby Orangutan... prey for the pet trade

Baby Orangutan... prey for the pet trade

Unfortunately, most primate species live in parts of the world where human numbers and environmental impacts are skyrocketing.  Studies like those above reveal a tough road ahead for our closest kin. 

What to do if you see an eco-crime

Ever seen somebody do really wrong by the environment?  Don't get mad, get even...

Frequent victim...  (photo by Ralph Buij)

Frequent victim...  (photo by Ralph Buij)

For the first time, there's a whistle-blower site that's dedicated to eco-crimes, including illegal logging, poaching, and the illicit wildlife trade.  Known as Wildleaks, it's designed to provide a simple and totally secure way to dob in eco-offenders.

A website like this is more than timely: wildlife crimes are burgeoning in many parts of the world.  The illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn alone have had appalling impacts on elephant and rhino populations (see our blogs below), and that's just scratching the surface of the problem.  Organized crime is implicated in many cases.

Interpol and the World Bank, for instance, estimate that illegal logging is costing developing nations around US$30 billion annually, and that's merely lost government revenues.  The price tag approaches US$100 billion if the environmental toll is included too.

So pass along the word to friends and colleagues about Wildleaks.  Wildlife crimes flourish in the shadows but falter where the light shines...