Conservation status

The family includes very common and widely distributed species that are not threatened, but also a number of Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable species with very restricted and shrinking distributional ranges. With perhaps fewer than 350 individuals remaining, the black-faced lion tamarin (Leontopithecus caissara) is among the 25 most endangered primate species. The principal reason for declining populations is the ongoing destruction of suitable habitats. In the past, several species (e.g., cotton-top tamarins) have also suffered from heavy trapping of wild animals for exportation to the Northern Hemisphere, both as laboratory animals and as pets. While large-scale trade-trapping has been banned, illegal activities continue. For Critically Endangered species like the lion tamarins, even the removal of a few individuals from the already reduced wild populations represents a substantial loss.

Ironically, threats to marmosets and tamarins also emerge from closely related species. The common marmoset expands its range due to introduction by humans, and displaces or interbreeds with resident species. The Critically Endangered pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor), which lives in a limited area close to the Amazonian city of Manaus, suffers from range expansion by the Midas tamarin (Saguinus midas).

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