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World consumption of food and natural resources, together with an increasingly globalized economy, has created an expanding international market for agricultural products. This growth produces an increase in the area of deforestation. The available evidence indicates that between 2001 and 2015, 1.6 million kilometers of forest were lost in the tropics due to human activities and that 50% or more of this loss was driven for the need of commodities.
A study published in the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences highlights the fact that the economic benefits for countries where primates live have been limited compared to the price we are paying for biodiversity loss, continued food insecurity and the threat of emerging diseases.
The world’s primate fauna, distributed in the tropics (Africa and in South and Southeast Asia) represents an important global component of terrestrial biodiversity. The presence and activities of primates contribute to a wide variety of ecological functions vital to natural ecosystems, including local human populations.
Around 60% of the primate species are now in danger of extinction and about 75% have declining populations as a result of the increasing pressure caused by humans. Given that the global extraction of commodity resources is expected to double, from 85 billion current tons to 186 billion in 2050, reversing the current trend will require a worldwide decision to prevent the disappearance of the other primates.
The authors of the study suggest a series of measures, including changes in global consumption habits, the creation of an international fund for environmental improvement and assigning responsibility for environmental damage to those international corporations that control production, export and supply chains.
“Primates and their habitats are a vital component of the natural and cultural heritage of the world,” explain the authors in the study. “And as our closest living biological relatives, nonhuman primates deserve all our attention, concern and support for their survival.”