Primatewatching

Of all of the wild animals we share our only home with, humans often feel a profound emotional connection the other primates. Yet more than 60% of species are already endangered, and 75% of them have declining populations. Primate-based ecotourism that provides income to the communities living near to the animals – communities who can play a major role in conserving them – may be the only effective tool at our disposal to ensure the survival of many species.

Russell A. Mittermeier, Chief Conservation Officer, Re:wild; and chair IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group

Why primates? They are our closest relatives and species like gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans are some of the well-known and well-loved animals.

Gorilla watching is a huge industry and has been operating for over 40 years. In 2006 Mountain gorilla tourism was the number one foreign currency earner in Rwanda. There are over 500 primate species and many are stunning including the Douc Langurs of Vietnam, Proboscis Monkeys on Borneo, the lemurs of Madagascar and the tamarins of South America. Some are easy to see, while others like the Owl-faced Monkey are so rare, shy and secretivethey are unlikely to be seen by anyone other than the most dedicated mammalwatcher. Taxonomists have revealed that primate diversity is much greater than previously thought, with many new species of South American monkeys and lemurs identified in the past 20 years. And the last large African mammal discovery was a primate – the Kipunji monkey – which is endemic to the Southern Highlands of Tanzania

So it is little wonder that primates are a natural focus for mammalwatchers. But this is more than a hobby. A major reason to promote primatewatching is the potential conservation benefits it could bring.

Imagine what it could mean for conservation if primates got even a fraction of the attention birds do. In the USA alone, an estimated US$17 billion is spent each year spent on bird-watching travel to destinations in the USA and abroad. In 2016, nearly 300,000 birdwatchers visited Alaska alone, spending US$378 million and supporting about 4,000 jobs. An estimated 150,000 bird-watchers will visit Colombia from the United States alone over the next decade, generating US$47 million annually and sustaining 7,500 new jobs.

If you are on this website you probably already know how much fun watching primates can be. But it is much more than just entertainment. Primatewatching can stimulate awareness of primates: species which are often flagship animals for the dwindling habitats they live in. This is particularly true in countries like Madagascar, where lemur watching is an important tourism attraction, so helping to maintain the protected area network. This in turn can stimulate economic development in communities surrounding the protected area to create a positive loop, with those communities helping to ensure these species are valued and have a future. One example of a locally-based tourism operation is the Community Guides Network in Analamazoatra Community Reserve next to Andasibe NP in Madagascar. Over 30 local guides are employed to take visitors to see the Indri.

We need to go and see these creatures in their natural environments, spend time with the communities upon whose survival they ultimately depend, share our excitement and enthusiasm, and, ultimately, contribute to the local economy.

Resources

Primatewatching Guidelines

Primatewatching – Field guides help when you encounter a primate in the field. Travel guides help you get around. But neither help you know where best to go to find a particular primate. This site fills that gap …
https://www.rewild.org/get-to-know/primates

Current primate taxonomy

Primates in Peril – outlining the 25 primate species in most need of urgent conservation intervention.

Primate Conservation – Follow Russell Mittermeier on Twitter @PrimateWatcher

Primatewatching rankings

Please register or log in to submit your list to join the competition. All mammal lists

#

Name

No. of species

List

Latest observations

1

Jon
Hall

296

Latest additions include Preuss's Guenons and Bioko Red Colobus in Equatorial Guinea in January 2023. Highlights include all the Lion Tamarins and all the Douc Langurs.

2

Cheryl
Antonucci

250

Some of the latest species include Perrier's Sifaka and Aye Aye from Madagascar and Grizzled Javan Langur. Previous highlights: all the spider monkeys, all the Callithrix marmosets and all the Callicebus titi monkeys

3

Martin
Royle

243

Lao Langur latest sighting

4

Jonathan
Newman

178

Niemitz' and Peleng Tarsier, Kinda Baboon, Philippine Slow Loris, Brown-headed Spider Monkey among the highlights for 2023

5

Alex
Meyer

155

2023: 73 Species of Lemur over 5 weeks in Madagascar 2022: Silvery Javan Gibbon, Javan Slow Loris, West & East Javan Langurs. Previous Years: Kenya Coast Galago, Buffy-headed Marmoset, Golden-mantled Saddleback Tamarin, Black-faced Lion Tamarin, Panamanian Night Monkey, Coastal Black-handed Titi, Napo Saki, Northern Muriqui, Tana River Mangabey, Bale Monkey, Semliki Red Colobus, Eastern Gorilla, Chimpanzee, and Human at birth (only way to truly see wild Humans)

6

Alex
Schouten

155

Highlights: Kipunji, Drill, all 9 species of Sifaka, all 3 species of Douc Langurs, Cat Ba Langur, Southern Muriqui, Pennant's Red Colobus. Latest trip (march 2023: Vietnam

7

Romain
Bocquier

139

Cat ba, Hatinh, Delacour langur and Grey shanked douc

8

Stuart
Chapman

131

Highlights: endangered Asian primates including Lao langur, Cat Ba langur, all three species of Douc langur and Arunachal macaque.

9

Charley
Hesse

131

Latest trip to S India with Lion-tailed Macaque & Nilgiri Langur

10

Tomer

121

I've actually had lots of highlights - I love my primates. Most recent additions were 41 lemurs on Madagascar including Aye-aye and Indri. I also realized my previous count was wrong (the list was right, but I had 2 repeating numbers), so I'm actually past 120! Boom.

11

Mark
Tasker

118

All records visible on iGoTerra

12

Cathy
Pasterczyk

113

Most recent is Marañón White-fronted Capuchin Cebus yuracus

13

George
Vincent

105

Latest additions from Ghana include White-thighed Colobus, Thomas's Dwarf Galago and Lowe's Monkey

14

Philip
Precey

96

96 species as of May 2023: most recent additions Gelada, Hamadryas and Bale Monkey in 2020

15

Samuel
Marlin

90

Highlights are: Mountain gorillas and chimpanzee in Uganda; all the sifakas (6 seen out of 9 species) in Madagascar

16

Andreas
Jonsson

89

Latest addition: July 2023 - White-bellied spider monkey amongst others in Ecuador

17

Terry
Reis

72

My recent new species was Spectacled Galago in Uganda. A predictable highlight was Eastern Gorilla. I haven't added either Thomas's or Demidoff's Dwarf Galago to my list as I'm concerned about identification. If anyone has information beyond size and movement I'd be most interested to hear it.

18

Brett
Taylor

56

It's actually been a while since this list was added to. Vietnam primates are a definite highlight. I really just wanted to be in the top 10 of the primate lists and reside with the other esteemed mammal watchers here while I could. Shameless I know. Cheers.

19

Jonas
Livet

40

Update 05/2023: 40 primate species seen in the wild, total 211 primate species seen including ones in captive settings

20

Michael
Johnson

36

More than half the mammals on my list come from my trip to Uganda in Feb 23, during which I saw 21 primate species.

21

Martin
Walsh

34

Recent additions:c Gurskey's Spectral Tarsier, Gorontalo Macaque, Celebes Crested Macaque. Previous highlights: Vietnam's Doucs, Bornean Orangutan, Gelada.

22

Martin
Fichtler

24

Latest: Barbary Macaque, June 2022, Morocco and Thick-tailed Greater Galago, Aug. 2022, South Africa. Highlight: Drill in Cameroon.

23

Kyle
Smith

22

Latest additions were Black-and-gold Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya), Black-capped Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri boliviensis), Brown Capuchin (Sapajus apella), and Bolivian Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta sara) in July 2019 in Bolivia

24

Moses
Swanson-Mwamasika

14

The most recent addition to this list is a subspecies of blue monkey in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. Beautiful monkeys that ended a small trip beautifully.

25

Warren
Gilson

14

Sept 2023 : Hilliers and Javan Slow Loris, Raffles' Banded Langur, White-handed and Silvery Gibbons, Sumatran Orangutan

26

Waskito
Wibowo

13

Javan Slow Loris in Central Java, Indonesia (17 September 2023)

27

Jacob
Zinn

10

Highlights: Spider, howler and squirrel monkeys in June 2022, Barbary macaques in March 2023, black and white colobus, tantalus monkeys, olive baboons, red-tailed monkey, De Brazza's monkey and mountain gorillas in June 2023

28

Diedert
Koppenol

5

Central American Spider Monkey

29

Jesse
Golden

4

Southern Pig-tailed Macaque (20 Oct 2019)

30

William
Lewis

3

Latest - Mantled Howler Monkey, Geoffroy's Spider Monkey, and Panamanian White-throated Capuchin in Costa Rica, June/July 2022.

31

Bruno
Kovacs Gomez

1

Only Barbary Macaque, in 2019 in Gibraltar and in 2023 in Morocco.

See also

Madagascar

The enormously rich diversity of primates makes Madagascar one of the planet’s four major primate regions.

Central & South America

Central and South America – or the Neotropics – are home to well over 200 species and subspecies of primates.