A 3-year conservation strategy for Madagascar’s Lemurs has been formulated by primate experts from around the world. Lemurs are the most endangered mammal group in the world and face a real danger of extinction due to various threats which include the destruction of their tropical forest habitat by illegal logging and expanded subsistence agriculture.
Of the 103 species of Lemur identified by 2012, 24 are now classified ‘Critically Endangered’, 49 are ‘Endangered’, and 20 are ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. This equates to almost 94 percent of the world’s lemur species for which sufficient data was available to enable their assessment against the Red List criteria.
Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Head of Research at Bristol Zoo Gardens, is a world leading primatologist and the lead editor of the Lemur Conservation Strategy 2013-2016.
“The strategy effectively contains 30 action plans for 30 different priority sites for lemur conservation,” he says. “Our aim will be to use the document to help fundraising for individual projects. The fact is that if we don’t act now we risk losing a species of lemur for the first time in two centuries. The importance of the projects we’ve outlined in this document simply cannot be overstated.”
“I am an optimist, so I wouldn’t give up on any species of lemur,” continues Dr Schwitzer. “This document shows how well people can work together when species are on the brink. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved here but the hard work is yet to come.”
The 185-page conservation strategy document had a total of 83 authors and the species are divided into threat categories. The projects all have individual funding targets from $50,000 to $500,000 equating to a budget of $7.628 million over three years.
“There are three things we know work when it comes to tackling conservation in the field, which are cheap and simple to implement in different areas,” says Dr. Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International and Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. “First working on grassroots projects with local communities so people can make a difference for themselves, secondly supporting eco-tourism projects and thirdly establishing research stations as a permanent facility to protect against loggers and hunters.”