Climate Change Threatens 38% of World’s Primates

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A ring-tailed lemur eats grass. This primate is endangered and lives in Madagascar.

A June 17, 2019 study published in Nature Climate Change found that 38% of primates are threatened by climate change, including lemurs, langurs, and orangutans.

The researchers found that these animals are threatened by extreme weather conditions caused by rising temperatures related to climate change. 16% of the primates are endangered by cyclones, especially those in Madagascar, and 22% are endangered by droughts, especially in the Malaysia Peninsula, North Borneo, Sumatra, and West Africa.

Among the 607 types of primates examined by the peer-reviewed study, 100 types were vulnerable to cyclones, 134 were impacted by droughts, and 19 were troubled by both cyclones and drought.

Over 90% of the primates threatened by cyclones and 65% of those vulnerable to drought were listed as “threatened with extinction” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Twenty-three species impacted by cyclones are “critically endangered,” and 26 are vulnerable to drought.

The study stated, “As the pressures exerted by extreme climatic events on primates are not preventable or controllable, it is critical to maintain primate populations’ resilience to catastrophic mortality and habitat loss caused by these events.” Ways to do this include creating sustainable land-use projects to limit conflicts between primate and humans and strategies to improve human living conditions to reduce illegal hunting of primates.

Discussion Questions
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1. What are ways to reduce the impact of climate change on primates?? Explain your answer(s).

2. Are other animals impacted by climate change? Which animals and how are they affected?

3. Are zoos a way to save some endangered species? Why or why not?

Sources:

Scottie Andrew and Saeed Ahmed, “Climate Change Threatens Nearly 40% of the World’s Primates, Study Says,” cnn.com, June 17, 2019

Lyubing Zhang, et al., “Global Assessment of Primate Vulnerability to Extreme Climatic Events,” nature.com, June 17, 2019