Greater Mekong primates struggle to cling on amid persistent threats: Report

When scientists described the Popa langur (Trachypithecus popa) as a species new to science in 2020, it was already staring extinction in the face. Fewer than 260 of the fluffy gray leaf-eating monkeys are estimated to remain across four precariously isolated patches of forest on Myanmar’s central plains, where their survival is threatened by habitat loss and hunting.

And the Popa langur is not alone in its plight. Some 90% of non-human primate species in the Greater Mekong region are listed as threatened with extinction (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) on the IUCN Red List, according to a report published earlier this month by WWF.

Deforestation, habitat degradation, and hunting to supply the wildlife trade have driven many of the region’s gibbons, lorises, langurs, macaques and snub-nosed monkeys to the brink of extinction, the report says. It incorporates the latest updates to the IUCN species assessments, in which one-quarter of the primate species in the region were bumped to a higher category of threat.

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Carolyn Cowan