Conservation of Neotropical primates: Ecuador – a case study



Neotropical primates are a highly diverse and ecologically important group that is facing several conservation problems. This review aims to contribute to understanding the nature and extent of these problems by presenting relevant information on the conservation status of Ecuadorian primates. In the recent evaluation for the Red Data Book of Ecuadorian Mammals, 53% of 21 primate taxa (20 species – 21 subspecies) were considered to be threatened (19% Vulnerable, 24% Endangered and 10% Critically Endangered), 43% are Near Threatened and 5% are Data Deficient; none were considered as Least Concern. Conservation actions need to rely on objective information that is not always available. Most primatological studies have been carried out in two protected areas in Ecuadorian Amazon (Cuyabeno Reserve and Yasuní National Park). There have been fewer studies in the west of the Andes. To enhance conservation actions, we need to determine the geographic distribution and to evaluate the impacts of habitat loss, hunting and illegal trade for all primate taxa. Collaboration between zoos and academic institutions to carry out studies with captive populations and to raise public awareness of conservation issues is fundamental. Direct participation of local communities may assure the continuity of the studies and the effectiveness of conservation actions.