The U.S. affiliate of the World Wildlife Fund announced a $1-million fund-raising campaign Monday aimed at saving primates--the monkeys, apes and other animals that are the closest relatives of humans--from extinction around the world.
Of the 200 primate species, 67 are threatened and 26 “could be extinct by the end of the century if something isn’t done,” Russell A. Mittermeier, director of primate programs for World Wildlife Fund-U.S., told a news conference.
The disappearance of tropical rain forests because of an expanding human population is responsible for most pressures on primates, although some species are hunted for food, for pets and for the illicit international trade in exotic species.
The fund-raising effort, under the honorary chairmanship of noted scientist Jane Goodall, will tap corporations, foundations and interested individuals for money to conduct surveys, draw up management plans, mount educational programs in the countries concerned and train experts from those countries.
Although concerned with all species, the campaign will focus on three groups: the New World monkeys, mostly in Brazil; the lemurs of Madagascar and the great apes of several African countries.