Lemurs Facing Extinction
Bristol Zoo Gardens reports that 90 percent of the lemur population is facing the possibility of extinction. This revelation gives them the dubious title of the most threatened mammal on the planet. The rising rates of poaching and the loss of funding for environmental programs by most international programs because of the political strife in Madagascar is making the chances of saving this specie much harder than it should be.
"Fact is that if we don't act now, we risk losing a species of lemur for the first time since our records began," said primatologist Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, head of research at Bristol Zoo Gardens and vice-chair for Madagascar of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. "Lemurs have important ecological and economic roles and are essential to maintaining Madagascar's unique forests, through seed dispersal and attracting income through ecotourism. Their loss would likely trigger extinction cascades. The importance of the action plan cannot be overstated."
However, there is still hope for the lemur population. An article published in the journal Science notes that despite the issues being faced, the significance of implementing a new emergency three year International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lemur action plan will guide forward for preventing the 101 species of lemurs in Madagascar to be threatened by extinction.
Also, Dr. Schwitzter stressed the fact that effective management of Madagascar's protected areas, the development of more reserves directly controlled by local communities, and a long-term research presence in critical lemur sites can be pivotal moves of preventing the species from ceasing to exist.
"Despite profound threats to lemurs, which have been exacerbated by the five-year political crisis, we believe there is still hope," Dr. Schwitzer said. "Past successes demonstrate that collaboration between local communities, nongovernmental organisations and researchers can protect imperiled primate species."
According to the Bristol Zoo Gardens, of the 101 living lemur species, 22 are now classified Critically Endangered, 48 are Endangered, and 20 are Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.