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Lemurs – the most threatened mammals in the world

15/07/2012

Lemurs found to be ‘most threatened mammals’ in the world
By the CNN Wire Staff
July 13, 2012

Ring-tailed lemurs from a German zoo.

Ring-tailed lemurs from a German zoo.

One of the 103 species of lemur — the northern sportive lemur, distinct for its bulging amber eyes — has only 18 known individuals left.

About 60 experts met in Madagascar‘s capital this week for a workshop of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission. Madagascar is the only place on Earth to which lemurs are native.

“Madagascar has, by far, the highest proportion of threatened species of any primate habitat region or any one country in the world.”

“We now believe that lemurs are probably the most endangered of any group of vertebrates.”

The wildlife and landscape of Madagascar have significantly changed since scientists last assessed lemurs in 2005, said Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International.

A coup overtook the government in 2009 and there isn’t much “law and order,” he said.

The area isn’t dangerous or volatile, he said, but the news release states that “political uncertainty has increased poverty and accelerated illegal logging” and that lemur hunting is “a more serious threat than previously imagined.”

Nearly 90% of the island’s natural vegetation has already been lost, the statement said. It said habitat loss is the primary cause of the animals’ decline.

Mittermeier said the remainder of the conference will be spent devising an action plan.

There are likely to be 30 to 40 projects addressing the issue with a total budget of $5 million to $10 million over the next three years, he said.

“Not very much to save an entire forest and population,” he said.

There was one positive finding, the release said: the discovery of a new species of lemur. The species, thus far unnamed, was discovered by Peter Kappeler and his team from the German Primate Center.
 

Indri indri - "Babakoto"

Indri indri – “Babakoto” (Photo credit: wallygrom)

* Madagascar – Terre brûle

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