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Socioeconomic Contexts of Primate Conservation: Population, Poverty, Global Economic Demands, and Sustainable Land Use



    Corresponding author
    • Estación de Biología Tropical Los Tuxtlas,, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico
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Correspondence to: Alejandro Estrada, Estación de Biología Tropical Los Tuxtlas, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, APDO. 94, San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico. E-mail:


Recent assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicate the existence of about 612 recognized primate species and subspecies (IUCN RedList, 2012), but close to 50% of these taxa are at risk of extinction as a result of human action. In this article, I call attention to underlying regional and global socioeconomic contexts of primate conservation. Using information from FAO and UN databases and other sources, I examine, for the Neotropics, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, trends in forest loss and human demographics and social condition, discuss the impact of global market pressures upon primate habitats, and examine land-use patterns that may favor primate conservation. Between 1990 and 2010, an estimated 149 million ha of forest were lost in the three regions and additional losses are expected in the future. Global human population will increase from 7 billion in 2012 to 9 billion in 2050. Currently, 2 billion people live in the three primate range regions under high levels of poverty. Large-scale deforestation is related to global market demands, especially from developed and developing nations, for food (e.g., cattle), domestic animal feed (e.g., soybeans), biofuel-based crops (e.g., oil palm), and industrial round wood. The growth of protected areas in the three regions has been steady for several decades, but it is not enough to ensure long-term conservation of many primate taxa. Other conservations tools involving sustainable land use and biodiversity conservation corridors are required at the landscape level. The above assessment can easily be applied at the local level by primatologists, giving more precision to conservation initiatives. Am. J. Primatol. 75:30-45, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.