AskScience AMA Series: I'm a primatologist and conservationist who's seen every genus of primate in the wild and is featured in the PBS/BBS series "Primates." Ask me anything!NEWQ:show
EDIT: Please note that it is the PBS/BBC series "Primates"
Hi, I'm Dr. Russ Mittermeier, Chief Conservation Officer at Global Wildlife Conservation and Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. I have studied and observed primates in the wild for 50 years, and in 2019 I became the first person to see at least one species from every one of the 80 genera of primates that are known to exist. This is part of my ongoing effort over the past 20 years to stimulate primate ecotourism, and especially primate-watching and primate life-listing, based on a wildly successful birdwatching model.
The bulk of my career has been focused on primate conservation around the world, with the objective of maintaining the full diversity of the Order Primates and ensuring Zero Extinctions. Ethical primate ecotourism has played a key role in our conservation efforts to date, and I hope to enable it to become an even more significant part of our global program, with a strong focus on working closely with local communities living in close proximity to the world's most important primate habitats. Local people are our most important partners in our conservation efforts and can benefit in many ways from successful primate ecotourism programs, as has already been demonstrated in many places. Primates are the most endangered larger group of mammals, with more than 60% of all known species now classed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable.
I am featured in the third episode of the Nature "Primates" miniseries, premiering tonight at 8/7c on PBS, pbs.org/primates, and the PBS Video app. This three-part documentary series visits 17 countries to uncover the mysteries of countless species, including gorillas, orangutans, lemurs, spider monkeys, marmosets, macaques and more. If you're in the UK, you can watch it on the BBC iplayer.
I'll be answering your questions at 1 pm ET. Ask me anything!