What you may not know about the primates of the Greater Mekong

Did you know that Southeast Asia’s Greater Mekong region, which includes Thailand, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam, is home to a remarkable 44 species of primates? Of these, 19 are endemic to this region—meaning they don’t exist anywhere else in the world—with some even existing in only one country or a small part of a single landscape.

Many of these species are severely threatened by habitat loss and hunting, both driven by trade and consumption for meat and traditional medicine. A quarter of the species in the region are classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and about half are Endangered. In the latest IUCN Red List assessments, a quarter of the primate species in the region showed increased extinction risk compared to previous assessments, while the rest showed no reduction in extinction risk. Urgent and targeted conservation efforts must be taken to protect the incredible diversity of primates in the Greater Mekong.

WWF and other conservation organizations, government agencies, and local communities are working constantly to protect these unique species from disappearing—by conducting surveys in protected areas, monitoring and protecting key primate populations, disarming snares, rescuing and rehabilitating primates from the wildlife trade for reintroduction to the wild, and running ecotourism ventures that allow people to learn more about primates in a safe way while providing livelihood opportunities for local communities.

To learn more about the primates of the Greater Mekong region, read our latest report on status, threats, and conservation efforts.