In the last 30 years the bushmeat trade has led to the slaughter of nearly 90 percent of West Africa’s bonobos, perhaps our closest relatives, and has recently driven Miss Waldron’s red colobus monkey to extinction. Earth was once rich with primates, but every species—except one—is now extinct or endangered because of one primate—Homo sapiens. How have our economic and cultural practices pushed our cousins toward destruction? Would we care more about their fate if we knew something of their individual lives and sufferings? Would we help them if we understood how our choices threaten their existence? This anthology helps to answer these questions.
The first section of Primate People introduces forces that threaten nonhuman primates, such as the entertainment and “pet” industries, the bushmeat trade, habitat destruction, and logging. The second section exposes the exploitation of primates in research facilities, including the painful memories of an undercover agent, and suggests models of more enlightened scientific methods. The final section tells the stories of those who lobby for change, educate communities, and tenderly care for our displaced cousins in sanctuaries.
Sometimes shocking and disturbing, sometimes poignant and encouraging, Primate People always draws the reader into the lives of nonhuman primates. Activists around the world reveal the antics and pleasures of monkeys, the tendencies and idiosyncrasies of chimpanzees, and the sufferings and fears of macaques. Charming, difficult, sensitive—these testimonies demonstrate that nonhuman primates and human beings are, indeed, closely related. Woven into the anthology’s lucid narratives are the stories of how we harm and create the conditions that endanger primates, and what we can and must do to prevent their ongoing suffering and fast-approaching extinction.