Areas managed by indigenous peoples tend to have more primate biodiversity

By comparing geographic patterns of non-human primate biodiversity and human land use, the researchers found that areas managed or controlled by indigenous peoples tend to have significantly higher primate biodiversity than neighboring regions. . They also found that lorises, tarsiers, monkeys and apes whose territories overlap with indigenous areas are less likely to be classified as vulnerable, threatened or endangered than those that live entirely outside indigenous lands.

The results are reported in the journal Scientists progress.

“There is a looming extinction crisis among the world’s 521 primate species,” said Paul A. Garber, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the research. with Alejandro Estrada, professor at the Institute of Biology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “We know that 68% of these species are vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered and that many of them may not survive until the end of the century. Worldwide, 93% of primate populations are in decline.

Understanding the conditions that allow primate populations to survive and even thrive is key to preventing their extinction and preserving their particular contributions to healthy forest ecosystems, Garber said.

“Most primates exploit forests, where they serve as pollinators and seed dispersers,” he said. “They are involved in important predator-prey relationships. They consume insects and small vertebrates. They play a very important role in the regeneration of forests.

Because they are relatively large animals with a slow reproductive rate and a late age of first reproduction, primates are also “one of the first indicator species if there is a disturbance or dramatic change in the environment. “, did he declare.

For the study, the researchers reviewed scientific reports on indigenous peoples and primate biodiversity, and carried out a spatial analysis “to assess the importance of indigenous peoples’ lands in safeguarding primate biodiversity”, said writes the authors. “We found that indigenous peoples’ lands make up 30% of primate range and that 71% of primate species inhabit these lands. As their range on these lands increases, primate species are less likely to be classified as threatened or to have declining populations.

The pattern held true even when comparing Indigenous lands to regions with roughly the same human population density immediately outside of these Indigenous territories and 10, 25, and 50 kilometers from their borders.

“The results showed that the human footprint – a measure of infrastructure development and habitat conversion – was significantly larger immediately outside of Indigenous Peoples’ lands than inside,” said Garber.

Most indigenous groups whose territories overlap with those of non-human primates have an ancient association with their lands and these animals, and many – but not all – have developed cultural practices and norms that help preserve primate populations and conservation. ecosystem health, Garber said.

“There are many different indigenous peoples, and they exploit their environment in different and multifaceted ways,” he said. “While many groups hunt primates, they also hunt pigs, ungulates, rodents, birds and fish. They harvest forest resources including medicinal plants. They have gardens, employ shifting cultivation methods and practice animal husbandry.

This reduces their reliance on primates as their primary food source.

Many indigenous groups also engage in practices that preserve primate habitat and reproductive capacity, he said. Some hunt only within a radius of 10 or 15 kilometers from their villages and consider the more distant lands as sacred landscapes. This allows more distant primates to increase in numbers and move to areas closer to villages, as these areas experience population declines due to hunting.

“Additionally, Indigenous groups have various prohibitions based on their knowledge, culture or religion,” Garber said. “We cite several cases, for example, where a species of primate can only be hunted for a particular holiday. Or a particular species of primate is not hunted when fruit is overabundant in the forest, allowing these populations to reproduce and produce offspring.

There are exceptions to the close association between indigenous peoples’ lands and primate biodiversity, Garber said. But most of the exceptions seem to be the result of colonial practices of the last centuries. For example, in East Africa, large tracts of traditional indigenous lands have been taken away from indigenous communities and preserved as national parks, where primate biodiversity remains higher than in cattle grazing areas that many indigenous peoples continue to inhabit.

In Madagascar, a country home to more than 100 primate species, no group meets internationally accepted definitions of indigenous peoples, and none identify as indigenous, the researchers report. A former French colony, Madagascar has lost around 90% of its original forest. About 96% of its primate species, all of which are lemurs, are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as threatened (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered).

The study is correlational and therefore does not provide direct evidence that indigenous practices explain the greater diversity of primate species on these lands. But it strongly suggests that “saving the lands, languages, and cultures of Indigenous peoples represents our greatest chance of preventing the extinction of the world’s primates,” the authors wrote.

Reference: Estrada A, Garber PA, Gouveia S, et al. Global importance of indigenous peoples, their lands and their knowledge systems in saving the world’s primates from extinction. Science Adv. 2022;8(32):eabn2927. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abn2927

This article was republished from the following materials. Note: Material may have been edited for length and content. For more information, please contact the quoted source.

Comments are closed.