A scientist who claims the world record for spotting the most types of primates wants more challengers — via a new brand of eco-tourism that might stave off extinction for many apes, monkeys and lemurs.
Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) primate specialist group, reckons he has seen 350 out of 634 known species and sub-species of primate in the wild.
“There are another couple of people in the running but I think that’s the highest,” Mittermeier, born in 1949, told me of his list compiled over about four decades of work often in the world’s tropical forests.
He said that he was planning to launch a website with the lists of the top experts’ sightings.
Eco-tourism to remote jungles could be a way of easing deforestation and human hunting for primate meat, a delicacy in some countries. Almost half the world’s primate species are under threat of extinction because of human activity, according to a report by the IUCN on Tuesday.