Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

About Primates

Bonobos © Ian Redmond
Bonobos © Ian Redmond

Ranging in size from lemurs that can fit in the palm of your hand to the Endangered eastern lowland gorilla weighing in at nearly 200kg, primates inhabit the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Central/Latin America. With few exceptions, primates are well adapted to utilising trees for food, travel and shelter.

Characterised by relatively large brains, slow reproductive rates and long infant dependency, primates have long life spans compared to other similar sized mammals. Their social structure varies widely from fission-fusion groups, where the size and composition of groups is fluid or flexible c, to one-male harems or solitary-living, depending on the species, sex and age of the individual.

Primates account for nearly half of the fruit eating animals in tropical and sub-tropical forests and play crucial ecological roles in the maintenance and health of the forest, through for example, the dispersal of seeds. The loss of primates to bushmeat hunting can therefore have far-reaching impacts on the structure and composition of a forest.

In 2010 the IUCN* comprised a list of the “The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates" highlighting the dire situation facing many of the world’s primate species. Additionally trade in all primates is regulated by CITES**.

*International Union for Conservation of Nature
**Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
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