Primate Rescue Center

In the Wild

Vervet monkeys in the wildFrom the Indonesian rainforests to sub-Saharan Africa and the jungles of Central America, nonhuman primates are under siege: they are hunted for the “bushmeat” trade, poached for the pet trade, indiscriminately killed for raiding farmers’ crops, and captured by the tens of thousands for biomedical research in the U.S., Europe, and, increasingly, in China. And both apes and monkeys face further peril because of escalating habitat loss, as migrating humans lay claim to the animals’ historic range and loggers, farmers, and oil companies press deep into once-pristine forests. In short, many primates are already deemed to be endangered, and without our help other species face a similarly dire fate.


  • A significant number of primates are classified as endangered species, as habitat loss, hunting, and other stresses push these animals toward extinction (in Madagascar, for example, which is home to lemurs, only 10 percent of the animals’ native habitat remains). In spite of this, many countries devote few resources to primate conservation.
  • Some primates, including Great Apes, have low birth rates, so the deaths of individuals from hunting, logging, or poaching have profound effects on the overall populations.
  • As their habitat shrinks from human encroachment, primates native to tropical rainforests, in particular, face additional threats from the effects of climate change.
  • In some areas of the world, primates parts—much like rhinoceros horns and tiger bones—are used as medicinal potions. This may include anything from drinking a monkey’s blood to eating his brain in hopes of curing or warding off disease.
  • Some primates are hunted for sport; others, like black-and-white colobus monkeys, are sadly still hunted for their pelts.
  • Trapping to satisfy the demands of the pet trade takes a particularly devastating toll on wild populations of primates, as entire families may be killed to snare one youngster. It is estimated, for example, that as many as 10 chimpanzees die for every one delivered overseas.
  • Killing monkeys and apes for “bushmeat” has a terrible ripple effect, as orphaned babies—unable to fend for themselves—are often left behind.

Bottom Line
Wild primates deserve to live their lives in their native environments, without interference from those looking to capitalize on the animals’ suffering.

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