IN PHOTO:A bonobo, a type of chimpanzee, reacts during feeding time at Twycross Zoo, central England July 28, 2008. Reuters/Darren Staples

More than half of the world's primates are on the verge of extinction, according to a report released in Singapore on Nov 24, 2015. Experts called for immediate conservation measures to save mankind's closest living relatives.

The decline in population is caused by an extensive habitat loss as a result of burning and clearing of forests. Hunting of primates for bushmeat trade or illegal wildlife trade also poses a serious threat to a number of endangered and vulnerable species.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar in its Red List of Threatened Species. The report, Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2012–2014, states that five species from Africa, six from Madagascar, nine from Asia and five from the Neotropics face the greatest threat.

Russell Mittermeier, chair of IUCN, hopes that the list will attract the attention of the government and the general public to do more conservation measures. Mittermeier adds that these primates have an important role in maintaining tropical forest diversity, consequently mitigating climate change.

There are 703 species and subspecies of primates in the world. Madagascar has the most species included in the list. Other countries, including Vietnam, has five, Indonesia has three, Brazil has two. China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Venezuela have one each.

"This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world's primates," said Christoph Schwitzer, director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society in Britain, reports. "We hope it will focus people's attention on these lesser known primate species, some of which most people will probably have never heard of."

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