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A prank started International Monkey Day, but it is not a joke

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

A prank started International Monkey Day, but it is not a joke

The day initially started as a prank back in the year 2000 after an art student at Michigan State University, Casey Sorrow, ended up writing Monkey Day on his friend Eric Millikins calendar as a joke...

A prank started International Monkey Day, but it is not a joke

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Monkey Day is celebrated every year on December 14, the day is also known as World Monkey Day or International Monkey Day. December 14 is celebrated as International Monkeys Day as it celebrates ‘all things simians’ and raises awareness about different monkeys and primates. The day also celebrates various non-human primates like apes, lemurs. Various environmental activists use this day to spread awareness about issues that these creatures face.

The day initially started as a prank back in the year 2000 after an art student at Michigan State University, Casey Sorrow, ended up writing 'Monkey Day' on his friend Eric Millikin's calendar as a joke. However, later, Sorrow collaborated with various fellow MSU students on the Fetus-X comic strip. Sorrow till date manages to contribute to the idea of primate welfare. He currently maintains a monkey day website and a blog called 'Monkeys in the News'. The blog discusses primate-related news from across the world. Monkey Day is now celebrated in different parts of the globe. Some of these countries include Scotland, Turkey, Thailand, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Pakistan, India, Germany, and Canada.

Monkeys are very intelligent, nimble, and naughty animals. Their personalities and habits capture human attention to many levels. They have the talent to mimic. Therefore, they can be easily trained. However, it is a difficult task to pinpoint the exact moment when monkeys emerged first, but it is believed that their appearance took place approximately 60 million years ago. Monkeys live all over the world. There are more than 260 different types of monkeys. They are separated into two major categories: New World and Old World. The New World monkeys live in the Americas, while Old World monkeys live in Asia and Africa. Monkeys are as varied in shape and size as humans. According to the University of Wisconsin, the world's smallest monkey is the pygmy marmoset. The world's largest monkey is the mandrill. Monkeys are also known as simians. As a member of the primate family, they are considered a lesser ape. However, many species of monkeys are currently endangered. About 60% of Earth’s non-human primate species, including apes, monkeys, gorillas, gibbons and lemurs, are threatened with extinction and about 75% have declining populations, according to a recent study. Indri, Roloway monkey, Western chimpanzee, and Ecuadorian White-Fronted Capuchin are some of the endangered species.

"This truly is the 11th hour for many of these creatures," said University of Illinois anthropology professor Paul Garber, who co-led the study. In the case of the Hainan gibbon, a species of ape in China, fewer than 30 animals remain on the planet. The population of the Grauer's gorilla fell from 17,000 in the mid-90s to around 3,800 today, mainly from hunting and mining, the study said. And 22 out of the 26 primate species in China are endangered, Garber said. Those and many other species would disappear in the next 25 years unless conservation becomes a global priority, Garber said. “Of the 500 species of primates in the world, about 300 are threatened or endangered. Humanity's population expansion is the main cause for the extinction threat, with 5 billion humans living in countries with primates. Habitat loss due to logging, mining and agriculture; hunting; the illegal pet trade; and climate change are all top reasons for the decline, Garber said. "Most of this has gone on in the past 100 years," he added.

The study, which involved dozens of authors from around the world, is the most comprehensive review of the world's primates ever conducted, the researchers say. Calling primates the "canary in the coal mine," Garber said “humans will eventually also not be able to live where primates are having trouble surviving now if we continue to pollute the environment." "Governments, non-governmental organizations, corporations and citizens have to come together to change business as usual," he said. "Now is the moment." Jan Vertefeuille of the World Wildlife Fund, who was not part of the study, said the report "raises the alarm" about the plight of these species. "The problem seems far away but there are a few easy things consumers in the U.S. can do to help take some of the pressure off," she said. Insisting on responsibly harvested wood products, recycled or Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, sustainable palm oil and beef are just some of those ways. The study appeared in the journal Science Advances, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

We however lack the evidence-based information necessary to effectively protect and manage many vulnerable species. Of the approximately 13,000 studies published between 1971 till date in 21 primate specialist journals and newsletters examined as part of the primate conservation synopsis, in only 80 studies (less than 1%) was the effectiveness of primate conservation interventions. Overall, only 14% (71 of 509) of all primate species recognized today are included, and considerable taxonomic biases are apparent; entire families are omitted from the primate conservation evidence database (e.g., Tarsiidae, Aotidae). Furthermore, intervention studies focused on large-bodied primates and Old-World monkeys, particularly great apes (Hominidae). Threat status, however, did not affect study effort, although 67% of the species studied were classified as Threatened (IUCN 2020). People frequently assume that more effective interventions are costlier, thereby poorly prioritizing already insufficient conservation funding. These results are alarming, given the extensive threats primates face. These threats range from habitat loss due to agriculture, logging, livestock farming, mining, and infrastructure development, pollution, and climate change to hunting, trapping, and anthroponotic diseases. One might argue that conservation interventions that are effective for other taxa could be applicable to primates. However, primates have slow life histories, low reproductive rates, and high energy demands, so some interventions that are effective for other species are inappropriate for primates. Primates are hunted and captured—often illegally—as pets and for medical research and are particularly vulnerable to human diseases because of our phylogenetic proximity. Their arboreal habits make most primates especially vulnerable to forest loss and reduce their ability to survive in forest patches surrounded by treeless anthropogenic lands. Furthermore, primate social complexity may also make them more vulnerable to population decline and extinction. For example, primates that live in small family groups are more prone to demographic extinction than are more promiscuous groups, because of density-dependent effects on resource limitation. Combined, these threats and traits suggest that primates require conservation interventions to be targeted and appropriate to their biological and social needs.

Primate range countries are typically undergoing rapid economic development and human population growth. These conditions cause habitat loss, overexploitation of resources, and increased hunting of and trade in primates. Conservation research in developing countries is often a low priority, given the unmet needs of people, the lack of technical and quantitative resources in government agencies, insufficient funding, and inadequate infrastructure. A lack of collaboration between local scientists and members of the international community also reduces opportunities for local research, capacity building, and training. Primates are difficult to count. Population changes assessments in the evaluation of conservation interventions therefore require innovative methods and intense monitoring over long periods, specific knowledge, and expertise, as well as hard to obtain long-term funding.




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