The Primate Specialist Group is a network of scientists and conservationists who stand against the tide of extinction which threatens humanity’s closest kin.
Active throughout the tropical world, working in dozens of nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the PSG promotes research on the ecology and conservation of hundreds of primate species — monkeys, apes, lemurs and their many nocturnal relatives. Now more than ever they need our intervention: one in every four primate species is threatened or endangered, and the double hammer of overhunting and forest devastation has brought some species to within a few dozen heads of final extinction.
The PSG works on behalf of these and all other primates by supporting field research, conservation measures and educational programs in those regions where primates still occur. The PSG’s primary responsibility is to evaluate the conservation status of all primate species and subspecies, working with current information from experts in the field. These assessments contribute to the IUCN Red List, a comprehensive summary of threats to the world’s biodiversity. In addition, the PSG produces Action Plans targeted to particular species or groups of species. Much larger and more detailed than the general assessments, these Action Plans serve to summarize the available knowledge on a particular species group and to lay out a program for their conservation.
Beyond these core functions, the PSG provides a unique forum for scientific publications through the newsletters and journals it sponsors, which are widely read by primatologists and often contain the only information available on rare and poorly-studied species. The PSG produces a journal or newsletter for each of the four global primate regions — Africa, Asia, Madagascar and the Neotropics — as well as an overarching journal, Primate Conservation, which publishes research on threatened primates from around the world.
The PSG is just one of over one hundred and twenty Specialist Groups organized within the framework of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, an international alliance of conservationists that produces the IUCN Red List and is involved in a range of other conservation initiatives. The PSG’s current incarnation was organized in 1977 by Dr. Russell Mittermeier, a primatologist, herpetologist, prominent conservationist and president of Conservation International, USA, who has now led the PSG as Chairman for more than 30 years. His Deputy Chair is Dr. Anthony Rylands, also at Conservation International. The PSG includes a group which specifically deals with conservation issues for the great apes, coordinated by Liz Williamson of Stirling University, UK and a number of world-renowned experts who act as regional coordinators for the major regions where primates occur (see the current team) besides a further 380 members organized by interests and geography.
Last, but by no means least, the PSG has for many years relied on the expert abilities of Stephen D. Nash, Scientific Illustrator for Conservation International. His artwork has become an international standard for the illustration of the world's primate taxa, and we are glad to be able to include some of it on our website, including the logo above.