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The theme of conservation of nonhuman primates is considered to be one of the most burning and frequent questions in the anthropological field. Some primatologists have already discussed this issue for many times and still cannot come to the same decision. The investigations prove that almost the third of all nonhuman primate species are under a terrible threat of being overexploited and destructed by other habitants.
“Ninety per cent of the world’s primates are found in tropical forests and it is precisely these forests that are being converted to human use faster and more dramatically than any other habitats on earth (Fuentes, 2002, p. 183). This is why the idea to develop as many nonhuman primate conservation programs as possible is regarded as the task number one for many sociologists and anthropologists all over the world.
The variety of nonhuman primates is impressive indeed, and in order to investigate the level of debates concerning conservation programs and their results, one of the most popular primates, a lemur, is chosen. As a rule, these primates occupy tropical and subtropical forests of Madagascar; to be more exact, these primates prefer western parts of the island. Many lemur conservation programs aim at ensuring the necessary conservation of these primates and promoting their habitation over the region.
Nonhuman primate conservation programs are characterized by numerous positive and negative sides: lemurs get benefits from these programs in the form of protection from other habitants of the same territory and legal empowerment of local population to defend and maintain the environment; however, at the same time, these programs put other primates under a threat of being neglected to achieve the main purposes of the program and lead to the development of the conflict between nonhuman primates and local human communities based on destroying crops and worsening the general state of affairs in the agricultural sphere.
Essence of nonhuman primate conservation programs. Nowadays, people try to participate in many activities in order to protect animals and all nonhuman primates in particular. The idea of “swift action that must be taken to prevent the extinction of…endangered species” (Wright et al., 2008, p. 13).
Even after the significance of lemurs’ biology is taken into account, much information and investigations about lemur life and challenges remain to be unknown for people. This is why it is crucially important to gain better and deeper understanding of lemurs and their habitat by means of the evaluation of the already known facts. According to Mittermeier and Butynski (2006) in Primate Conservation different types of lemurs are considered to be mentioned in the list of the “World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates”.
These species are characterized by constant mobility, and it becomes important to investigate their styles of life to protect them against each other, against local population, and against other animals that occupy Madagascar. This brief evaluation of lemurs as the primates under conservation programs, it is possible to define what is involved into nonhuman primate conservation programs and what effects are to be expected.
So, in general, the vast majority of nonhuman primates programs are all about to track what activities are done against lemurs, what may be done to protect their well-being, and what kind of support is possible to provide. These programs help to analyze and prevent the negative outcomes of human activities on lemur’s life and to define what environment and why is more appropriate for lemurs.
Benefits of these programs. The peculiar feature of the programs which aim to protect lemurs’ rights on survival is the possibility to lead to both negative and positive results. Right now, let us talk about benefits which are available for primate groups called lemurs in the wild of Madagascar.
As it has been mentioned, lemurs are called endangered species which have to be protected thoroughly. During the last century, lemurs have become extinct because of habitat destructions and constant hunting. This is why now, the purposes of conservation programs do everything possible to stop the process of hunting on lemurs and promote proper development of environment.
Kelley, Sussman, and Muldoon (2007) admit that the process of lemurs’ conservation in Madagascar is of the highest priority, and in spite of the fact that this country has poor economical standards lemurs of different kinds are still under protection of the government. One of the most important benefits is lemurs’ recognition: about 99 living lemur primates have been recognized and now get a chance to be protected on legal grounds (Mittermeier et al., 2008).
Another benefit available for lemurs under the conditions of conservation programs is the possibility to be discovered during the 10 years because Madagascar citizens do not want to stop their searches and studies and do want to evaluate living conditions and make them appropriate for lemurs.
Negative effects of programs. Primates are usually found in topics of Madagascar so that they are the citizens of the third-world countries which have poor living conditions and low economics factors. This is why when the programs of conservation are developed, it is necessary to take into consideration the financial side and the possibility to achieve good results under the existed conditions.
It is necessary to admit that the above-mentioned recognition of lemurs may also lead to some negative outcomes. More people are aware now of lemurs’ existence. They are also aware of the possibility to earn money on these species. This is why lemurs’ recognition needs to be under more serious governmental control. Another negative aspect of the programs for lemurs is still connected to the financial situation of the country.
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The point is that people who are involved into conservation programs are already directed to take certain steps and promote lemurs’ protection. However, because of some financial difficulties only the minor half of the ideas is applied. Lemurs do not have a chance to get used to and enjoy these new improvements, and, at the same time, they cannot live under the same conditions because some changes are already done.
Programs and local human populations. One more important issue concerning the development of nonhuman conservation programs and lemur living conditions is connected to local human population and the problems inherent to Madagascar. Since humans settled on the land of Madagascar, lemurs have faced with the problem that is based on the relations between human and animals and people’s possibility to destroy trees and cultivate lands in order to achieve the necessary success in life.
Though many people accept the idea of development protecting programs, lemurs’ conditions worsen within a short period. When people occupied the territory of Madagascar, they had to realize that lemurs and other nonhuman primates could not accept the idea of dividing their land with humans. This is why lemurs as well as other primates continue stealing food in order to feed themselves. Though people try to set some boundaries, it is hard to control lemurs all the time as well as protect them from outside dangers.
Effects of programs on local human populations. The effects of programs and lemurs are worthy of attention as well. Forests of Madagascar have been considerably destroyed in the middle of the 1990s (Thalmann & Geissmann, 2006). People were eager to use more land to build new houses and promote their activities.
They did not pay much attention to the idea that this land belonged to other primates, to lemurs. Lemurs could not understand on the necessary what happed to their land. In this situation, people become responsible for the outcomes of their activities and their influence on lemurs’ lives. This is why they find out the idea to develop programs to conserve lemurs and protect them against any outside threat rather appropriate.
However, it turns out to be hard to forecast the outcomes of the programs and evaluate the effectiveness of its work. Local population faces considerable problems after the adaptation of these programs. Such activity like hunting is forbidden. People cannot follow their demands and make traps to find more lemurs and earn for living. Conservation programs are created by people, and at the same time, these programs cut down human rights to achieve prosperity and recognition.
Variety of economic, ethical, and ecological aspects. The presence of ethical, economic, and ecological factors in the development of conservation programs is evident. Each of these aspects has to be analyzed in its own way. For example, when we talk about ethical issues of the program that aims at conservation of lemurs in the wild, such points like human responsibility, respect to traditions and rules set, and personal attitude to primates and their impossibility to protect themselves against each outside threat are important.
To become ethically correct to the offered programs, it is better to realize that lemurs as well as human and nonhuman primates are living beings, who get the right to live, develop, breed, and improve their living conditions. People cannot penetrate into lemurs’ lives and cause some changes. It is not ethically correct. As for economical issues of the problem, it has been already discussed earlier. Lemurs occupy Madagascar that is in Africa.
The economical level of third-world countries is not too high, and conservation programs face numerous challenges and problems. Ecological perspective is also worth attention because human actions like destruction of forests and cultivation of land influence lemurs’ lives and development. These programs need to focus on boundaries which may divide places for nonhuman primates like lemurs to life in accordance with their demands and for humans who are eager to set new rules and gain recognition and success.
In general, most nonhuman primates like lemurs are endangered or threatened species. This is why people focus their attention to develop some conservational programs in order to ensure these species survival under the current wild conditions. Such issues like economy of the country, local human population and their demands, ethical principles, and nonhuman primates’ attempts to survive in close proximity to humans have to be discussed all the time, considering new conditions and demands.
The process of primate conservation plays a very important role. Humans need to comprehend their responsibility before lemurs and other nonhuman primates because of their sudden occupation of the territory and settlement of new requirements and rules. These programs have both positive and negative sides, and all of them have been mentioned in the paper.
Fuentes, A. (2002) Monkeys, humans and politics in the Mentawai Islands: No simple solutions in a complex world. In: Fuentes, A., Wolfe, L.D., eds. Primates Face to Face: Conservations of Human-Nonhuman Primate Interconnections. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp 187-207.
Kelley, E.A., Sussman, R.W. & Muldoon, K.M. (2007). The Status of Lemur Species at Antserananomby: An Update. Primate Conservation, 20: 71-77.
Mittermeier, R. et al. (December 2008). Lemur Diversity in Madagascar. International Journal of Primatology, 29 (6): 1607–1656.
Mittermeier, R.A. & Butynski, T.M. (2006). Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates, 2004-2006. Primate Conservation, 20: 1-28.
Thalmann, U & Geissmann, T. (2006). Conservation Assessment of the Recently Described John Cleese’s Woolly Lemur, Avahi Cleesei (Lemuriformes, Indridae). Primate
Wright, P et al. (2008). The Crisis of the Critically Endangered Greater Bamboo Lemur. Primate Conservation, 23: 5-17.