More than two-thirds of the world’s population of primate species are threatened by extinction. That means over 66 percent of all primate species could be extinct in 20 years. All nonhuman primates are threatened by habitat loss caused by human activities.
As habitats shrink, competition for resources limits the number of individuals who can healthfully survive and thrive—setting off a domino effect of decline within the ecosystem. Loss of habitat leads to loss of lives; with food and shelter gone, so are the animals. And without the animals to provide crucial activities, such as enriching and fertilizing the soil through the course of their daily lives (seed dispersal through their feces, for example), environmental balance is disrupted.
Each ecosystem includes exactly the right number, combination, and diversity of plants and animals to create a beautiful, interdependent relationship. Yet this interdependence is why biodiversity exists. Biodiversity keeps the Earth and her creatures living and thriving.
As we continue to cut down rainforests for agriculture and urban development, the Earth loses her most precious resources: the trees that create our oxygen. Rainforests are the Earth’s lungs. Depletion of rainforests affects air quality globally. When rainforests decrease in size, resulting in fewer trees, less oxygen is produced, putting all oxygen-dependent organisms – including us humans – at risk.
The overwhelming amounts of carbon released into the atmosphere through human activity further impacts our world’s climate. These detrimental effects are occurring rapidly.
The good news is that because these destructive problems are due to human activity, they are preventable, repairable, and reversible. We cannot and should not sit back and wait for someone else to do something. We must each be the change that we hope for.
Who are we, after all, without all other animal species, whether primates or otherwise? We are one among many of the Earth’s citizens, a part of the planet’s interdependence. Each species—plant and animal—has its role in maintaining ecological balance. Some species will surely become extinct if we do not change our thoughts about their importance to us and the effects of our daily choices on them.
(Excerpted and modified from NEPC’s eBook, People and Other Primates.)