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Non-Human Primate Conservation: Effects on Both Non-Human Primates and Humans

By skratchh Nov 02, 2010 1240 Words
When viewing the topic of non-human primate conservation many issues arise as the

population is constantly growing and therefore requires more accessible space for building and

other land uses. The issue of non-human primate conservation is a large issue in various parts of

the developing world, as they are home to numerous non-human primates and as the developing

the human population is growing and the non-human primate population is decreasing with the

decrease in forest area. Viewing primates is a way of looking into our human past and ancestry,

therefore with the decrease in primates as they are quickly becoming extinct, we could possibly

never know the whole truth behind human ancestry. Many primatologists have devoted their life

studies to studying non-human primates, their biology, adaptation and social behaviors and with

the extinction of non-human primates none of these studies can be complete. A persisting debate

in the issue of non-human primate conservation is the balance between the economy of local

human populations and the survival of non-human primates who live within the proximity. One

specific non-human primate population that can be used to illustrate this debate is the

conversation of the Mountain Gorilla done by the International Gorilla Conservation Program.

The Mountain Gorilla had not been known to science until 1902 and lives in dense forests

in areas of tropical Africa. This non-human primate has a robust build with long arms, this type

of gorilla is known to be the hairiest of all gorillas, as the hair is used for warmth when living in high elevations. An active organization in the fight to conserve Mountain Gorilla life is the

International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), the main goal of this program is to ensure

the conservation of Mountain Gorillas and their natural environment in the main areas of

Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As noted on the IGCP website,

numerous things are involved in the conservation of Mountain Gorillas such as monitoring of the

gorillas, creating international boundaries as the gorillas do not recognize the areas in which they

are safe and which are not, this then requires help from citizens in the area to create land barriers.

It is also important to educate the citizens within areas of endangered primates, as then they can

work with those in conservation programs to ensure the survival of primates and their living


As expressed in the journal, “Regional Conservation in the Virunga-Bwindi Region: The

Impact of Transfrontier Collaboration Through the Experiences of the International Gorilla

Conservation Programme” (Rainer, Asuma, Gray, Kalpers, Kayitare, Rugtagarama, Sivha,

Lanjouw. 2003), the Virunga Volcano massif and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are two of the

forest blocks found in the Albertine Rift region which is shared by Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania

and the Democratic Repubic of Congo (DRC). The two forests combined are home to roughly

650 gorillas, these forests are home to numerous endangered species, these forests are also

crucial to the local population and environment as they have a high rate of evapotranspiration

which increases the level of precipitation in the area and that water is then used in nearby

communities. Another beneficial part of primate conservation is that they contribute to the

conversation of ecosystems. As explained in a journal article entitled, “Is Primate Conservation

Essential to Ecosystem Conservation?” (Wright and Wright. 2008) primate conservation also

aids in the re growth of ecosystems as primates pass on seedlings through cheek pockets and

feces. The IGCP and numerous other non-human primate conservation programs are not only

saving the Mountain Gorillas and other non-human primate populations but also helping

the neighboring communities as if the forests are saved more water is produced for the

community, and helping in the re growth of ecosystems which is very beneficial to local human


When looking at how the conservation of non-human primates could have a negative

effect on local human populations some of the main concerns involve the land use needed to

protect these non-human primates and the distance in which human populations should be from

non-human primates in order to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Human populations must also make

sure that they are a fair distance from non-human primate living to ensure diseases and other

health risks are not passed on from primates to humans such as zoonotic. The conservation of

non-human primates involves numerous steps and precautions which can be both time

consuming and costly to the human population such as creating barriers and monitoring the

particular species. One would not exactly view the conservation of non-human primates as to

have a negative effect on the human population as it is saving several species from extinction.

Although there are a few negatives to these programs of conservation the benefits to both non-

human primates and the human population are must greater than the negatives.

There are clear benefits to the non-human primate population with conservation of these

primates as then they will be protected from outside threats. Such as they have a semi-protected

place of habitat, which will help to ensure the survival of primates. These original and created

areas are home to many species, which are home to numerous primates as well as species used

for breeding, feeding and survival needs. Non-human primate conservation programs aim to

ensure the survival of non-human primate habitat to ensure they have a place to live which would

result in a protected area for these species to live.

With positive aspects of non-human primate conservation also comes the negative effects

to the primates as well. The negatives of non-human primate conservation include those such as

the primates are then placed in a designated area and are then easily targeted by hunters and the

placement of primates in zoos is also a great concern. As the population of developing countries

is increasing new developments are being made and therefore have to place non-human primates

and other species into particular areas to keep them within a certain population and away from

human population. With this the conservation programs try to create designated areas for the

primates and as forest sizes decrease the primates are then in a crowed forest with other species

and are easily targeted by hunters. Another important factor is the subject of placing endangered

species such as non-human primates into areas that are not their natural habitat, such as zoos.

With the presence of zoos primates are kept in restricted areas, and are subjected to the human

population, a primate that is kept in a zoo like habitat would never be able to survive on its own

as they have become to accustom to depending on humans for food. In the journal entitled, “How

Does the Zoo Environment Affect the Behaviour of Captive Primates?” (Hosey, 2005) it is

mentioned that non-human primates often beg for food from the visiting human population

which should not be a normal primate behaviour. This journal also addresses important points

referring to zoo like habitats and how they are not like that of a forest habitat as there is a clear

space restriction and human presence. All this is very important when viewing the negative effects of non-human primate conservation on the primates themselves as the primate should be

living a normal life such of that as primates living in forests.

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