ASP Resolution Regarding Conservation of Wild Primate Populations

On November 6, 2023, the ASP Board of Directors approved a resolution outlining the Society’s position on the conservation of wild primate populations. The text of the resolution follows:

The American Society of Primatologists (ASP) is a scientific organization whose purpose is to encourage the discovery, exchange, and dissemination of information regarding nonhuman primates (hereafter primates), including their biology, ecology, care, and conservation. As of July 2023, the IUCN lists 69% of nonhuman primate species, for which data are available, as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered including 98% of primate species in Madagascar, 88% in Asia, 45% in Africa, and 44% in the American tropics. Over 90% of primate species have declining populations. Given that the order Primates is the most threatened order of Mammals, and that several recent publications have described the impending primate extinction crisis (Estrada et al. 2017; 2022; Nadler and Roos 2017; Garber et al. 2023; Mittermeier et al. 2023), we encourage all primatologists to prioritize the protection and conservation of wild, native primate populations.

WHEREAS, virtually all wild populations of primates are declining due to habitat loss associated with increasing human demands for agricultural land, forest products, cattle ranching, transportation infrastructure, other forms of land use transformation, and the effects of climate change; and

WHEREAS, eradication of primates as agricultural pests and hunting of primates for food are also contributing to the decline of wild primate populations; and

WHEREAS, the capture and trade of wild primates, threatens the viability of natural populations and results in unnecessary suffering and mortality; and

WHEREAS, the scientific study of wild primates and the health of their natural habitats contribute essential knowledge of their behavior, ecology, evolution, and conservation; and

WHEREAS, the United States is the world’s largest importer of nonhuman primates for scientific use and is a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES); and

WHEREAS, the scientific study of captive non-wild born primates contributes to advances in human and veterinary medicine and yields information that can be useful to the conservation of wild primate populations; and

WHEREAS, all primate species are listed in Appendix I or Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the CITES recognizes that trade in species threatened with extinction should be regulated; and

WHEREAS, many of the primate species most often involved in scientific research and testing in the United States are available from sources other than wild populations within the natural ranges of these species,


To increase our efforts to fund and promote field studies of wild primates that have a strong conservation component, including studies that partner with members of local and indigenous human communities and governments to protect primates and their habitats (Code of Best Practices in Field Primatology 2014);

To prioritize conservation education in primate range countries to promote activities designed to protect primates and the ecosystems in which they live (Bezanson et al. 2022; American Journal of Primatology 2023);

To increase our efforts to educate global citizens and politicians in the U.S. and in primate range countries of the impending primate extinction crisis;

To encourage actions by primatologists that contribute to increasing the size, genetic diversity, and area of suitable habitat of wild natural primate populations;

To encourage actions by primatologists that minimize opportunities for disease transmission between human and nonhuman primate populations (Wallis and Lee 1999; Deere et al. 2019; Nunn et al. 2016);

To encourage actions by primatologists that minimize opportunities for disease transmission between human and nonhuman primate populations (Wallis and Lee 1999; Deere et al. 2019; Nunn et al. 2016);

To recognize the scientific value of reliable data on the size and demography of wild primate populations;

To encourage the development of sustainable infrastructure that allows persistent connectivity of primate populations to avoid their isolation and decline;

To encourage sustainable land use conversion to avoid habitat loss and fragmentation as much as possible;

To discourage the international and national primate pet trade through educational and legislative means; To contribute to solutions to reduce human-primate conflict and illegal primate use.


American Journal of Primatology. 2023. Special Issue on Conservation Education, 72(5).

Bezanson M., Franquesa-Soler M., Kowalewski M., McNamara A., Oktaviani R., and Rodrigues M.A. 2023. Best practices are never best: Evaluating primate conservation education programs (PCEPs) with a decolonial perspective. American Journal of Primatology 85(5).

Code of Best Practices in Field Primatology. 2014.

Deere, J.R., Parsons, M.B., Lonsdorf, E.V., Lipende, I., Kamenya, S., Collins, D.A., Travis, D.A., and Gillespie, T.R. 2019. Entamoeba histolytica infection in humans, chimpanzees and baboons in the Greater Gombe Ecosystem, Tanzania. Parasitology, 146(9), pp.1116-1122.

Estrada, A., Garber, P.A., Rylands, A.B., Roos, C., Fernandez-Duque, E., Di Fiore, A., Nekaris, K.A.I., Nijman, V., Heymann, E.W., Lambert, J.E., and Rovero, F. 2017. Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter. Science advances, 3(1), p.e1600946.

Estrada, A., Garber, P.A., Gouveia, S., Fernández-Llamazares, Á., Ascensão, F., Fuentes, A., Garnett, S.T., Shaffer, C., Bicca-Marques, J., Fa, J.E., and Hockings, K. 2022. Global importance of Indigenous Peoples, their lands, and knowledge systems for saving the world’s primates from extinction. Science Advances, 8(31), p.eabn2927.

Garber, P.A., Estrada, A., Klain, V., and Bicca‐Marques, J.C. 2023. An urgent call‐to‐action to protect the nonhuman primates and Indigenous Peoples of the Brazilian Amazon. American Journal of Primatology, p.e23523.

Mittermeier R.A., Reuter K.E., Rylands A.B., Louis Jr, E.E., Ratsimbazafy J. … Rajaobelina S. 2023. Lemurs of Madagascar. Re:wild.

Nadler, T. and Roos, C. 2017. Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates–Implications for Vietnam. Vietnamese Journal of Primatology, 2(5), pp.25-35.

Nunn, C.L., Gillespie, T.R., Wich, S., and Marshall, A. 2016. Infectious disease and primate conservation. An introduction to primate conservation, pp.157-174. Wallis, J. and Rick Lee, D., 1999. Primate conservation: the prevention of disease transmission. International Journal of Primatology, 20, pp.803-826.