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. 

Massive oil palm project threatens biodiversity in Cameroon

Oil palm plantations continue to spread like a tsunami across large expanses of the world's humid tropical regions, often driving large-scale deforestation.  Initially widespread in Southeast Asia, the crop is now spreading apace to Latin America, Africa and beyond.

Things are not looking up for wildlife in Cameroon (photo by William Laurance).

Things are not looking up for wildlife in Cameroon (photo by William Laurance).

ALERT member Joshua Linder has been very concerned about the impacts of a massive oil palm project in Cameroon.  Advocated by Herakles Corp., a New York-based agroindustrial firm, the plantation could eventually span over 70,000 hectares and destroy large areas of habitat in the buffer zones of three of Cameroon's most important national parks.

In a recent article, Linder decries the tactics of Herakles and explains how the project could impact on endangered primates and other wildlife species.  Other observers are also expressing great concern about this huge project, both for its environmental impacts and potential effects on local communities.

The challenges to nature conservation in Africa will surely increase dramatically this century, as its human population continues to grow rapidly.  The United Nations estimates that Africa's population will quadruple this century, and the continent is also experiencing an explosion of mining, infrastructure and other development pressures.