This month in our spotlight on species we take a look at primates, once abundant across most of Africa, now among the most endangered of species.
Primates like baboons, monkeys, and gorillas and thousands of other exotic species, once had a thriving and abundant home in Africa, the second largest continent, one full of savannahs and large plains. But due to habitat destruction, poaching, exotic pet trade, and disease, these endangered species will have to find another place to call home. According to the Huffington Post, 11 out of the 25 most endangered species on the planet reside in Africa.
Species of primates like the Mountain Gorilla are becoming more and more endangered due to excessive hunting in Africa. In fact, there are only about 600 mountain gorillas left in the world due to poaching. The animals’ body parts are very valuable and sold to tourists as souvenirs. In addition to being captured and killed, the gorillas’ lives are at risk because of habitat loss. The large wave of human settlement meant using the gorillas’ land for agricultural purposes. Efforts to protect this critically endangered species have come to a halt ever since the civil war started up in Africa.
Both the baboons’ and the Vervet monkeys’ populations have been decreasing due to illegal meat trade, medical research, and habitat loss. Like most endangered primates, baboons are over-hunted for their fur and meat, which resulted in a decrease in population. Baboons are seen as pests in many African villages and are regularly shot at, harassed, and tortured by locals. Baboons and other primates are also taken to medical laboratories to conduct vivisection.
Colobus monkeys also face a decrease in population as human development becomes more and more severe each day. Large amounts of forest are being cut down in the Colobus monkeys’ homes, so they become confined to a specific area in the region. This species of primates was hunted excessively for its black and white or red fur, which led to its extermination in some areas. Throughout the continent, humans are producing coal, logging, and clear cutting, which all destroys the environment these animals live in- if the trends do not turn around, the Colobus monkeys and many others will soon face extinction.
The biggest threat to the survival of unique and exotic primates, without a doubt, is humans. Due to oil drilling, human and agricultural settlement in Africa, deforestation and more, we brought many beautiful species to an end. According to the Huffington Post, dozens of species become extinct every single day. This includes types of common animals that we grew up knowing, like the West African Black Rhinoceros, the Passenger Pigeon, and the Caribbean Monk Seal, to name a few. If we don’t start raising awareness now, we may face a mass extinction in the next few centuries. Mankind and its destructive nature have driven thousands of marvelous species to extinction – it’s time we step up to help protect and conserve thousands more.
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Lina Lew