95 Percent of the World’s Lemurs Are Facing Extinction

Madagascar is home to dozens of species of charismatic lemurs who come in a range of sizes, colors and appearances, from the tiny mouse lemur to the largest indri, but a recent assessment found that one thing they all have in common is that nearly every species of lemur is now in danger of extinction.

That’s the unfortunate conclusion recently drawn by an international group of 50 leading primate conservationists who came together to review the status of 111 lemur species and subspecies who can be found nowhere else on earth.

The assessment, which was done to update the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, found that 105 species are now provisionally evaluated as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable, making them the most endangered primates in the world.

Since their status was last evaluated in 2012, 12 more species have become threatened, while the number of Critically Endangered lemur species rose from 24 to 38.

Not only is this bad news for lemurs, their disappearance could also bring a big blow to ecotourism on the island, which many people rely on, and it could have a cascading effect on the ecosystem in large part because some are pollinators and they help spread seeds that keep forests there healthy.

“This is, without a doubt, the highest percentage of threat for any large group of mammals and for any large group of vertebrates,” said Russ Mittermeier, Chief Conservation Officer for Global Wildlife Conservation and chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Primate Specialist Group (PSG). “This assessment not only highlights the very high extinction risk Madagascar’s unique lemurs face, but it is indicative of the grave threats to Madagascar biodiversity as a whole. Madagascar’s unique and wonderful species are its greatest asset, its most distinctive brand and the basis for a major ecotourism industry.”

Unfortunately, they’ve continued to be pushed further to the brink by habitat loss, which is being driven by a range of things from slash and burn agriculture, mining and logging to climate change – another recent study found that of 57 species examined, more than half would lose suitable habitat over the next 70 years just because of climate change –  but they’re also at risk of being taken for the pet trade, and being killed for their meat.

While the findings are depressing, conservationists aren’t giving up. They’re going to use the findings to prioritize efforts needed to help lemurs survive. The IUCN has already implemented a Lemur Action Plan to protect habitats for the most vulnerable lemurs, and to help people by getting them involved in ecotourism, which reduces the need to hunt lemurs.

“This is very alarming, and we have noticed a particularly worrying increase in the level of hunting of lemurs taking place, including larger-scale commercial hunting, which is unlike anything we have seen before in Madagascar,” said director of conservation at the Bristol Zoological Society and one of the organizers of the workshop. “We are investing a lot of time and resources into addressing these issues and will be implementing our Lemur Action Plan over the coming years, which we are confident will make a significant difference to the current situation.”

Photo credit: Thinkstock

40 comments

Winn A
Winn Adams4 months ago

:-(

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

If we humans - allegedly the upper primate on this world - had NOT destroyed everything we see and hear, this planet would NOT be in danger now. But we, HUMANS - allegedly the upper primate on this world - needed to have it ALL. And we destroyed so many beautiful things that in a couple of decades, there will be only 50 % of the actual rainforests, half as much lakes with only a couple of species of fish and crustaceans or shellfish, and some rare plants with flowers, and very rarely a super animal like the crocodiles. All the other wildlife animals will live in sanctuaries, and we will pay handfuls of money to have a glimpse of them. That's what will be left for our great grandchildren. Good job we did. And signing the Paris Climate Agreement or not, it will not change that much. There are a number of agreements reached upon, and except for 2 countries - amongst which the U.S.A. which is the biggest polluter - but none of these agreements must be met. If countries DO NOT MEET the agreed amounts, they are NOT PUNISHED, not financially, and not in any other way !!

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

@ Diane L : Thanks for your comment. I fully agree with you. Not because we are of the same age, but because we share the same ideas. I remember that my parents told us we had to SHARE. We had to share our toys with brothers and sisters. We had to share the rare treats we got, also with the kids in the street we were playing with. We had carrots in our garden, and mom always told me : don't forget the rabbits... But apparently most of us all have forgotten the good lessons we got from our parents and also in school. I can imagine that in this selfish society parents don't learn that anymore at home. But what about schools ?? Even the Catholic schools ?? Should they still talk about that and St. Francis of Assisi ? And the Good Samaritan ?? Or have they re-written the bible in the meantime ??

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

@ Paul Cole. I am NOT a vegan, but I do NOT eat LEMURS. What has this to do with each other ?? But vegans are so damned full of themselves, that on each article concerning a fish, a wildlife animal, or even a whale, they have to say : I am a vegan !! I do love animals very much. I have had 4 dogs from rescue, my son has adopted already 2 racing greyhounds and now he has 2 hunting dogs from a rescue. My daughter adopted a pitbull. So we are all involved in helping the needy. But none of us is vegan.... You understand what I mean ???

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

2.- They need their FREEDOM, their need to have to pack or a herd, possibly the leader able to mate and breed with different females, The Alfa Male needs his territory, he is responsible that their are no others on HIS land to ensure there is enough prey for them. Others, that there are fruits, seeds, nuts etc.. must guard their territory, so there is enough to raise his children. We have similar needs, viz. a wife or man, children, an own home, a job to provide for our family. Suppose someone took that ALL away from you. You are still alive, get food and fresh water, but that's it. No mate / girl- or boyfriend, no children and no occupation. The only think you can do is jump from one branch to another, play with your tail, and scratch yourself. Do you think you will be happy ?? I AM 100 % sure that you WILL NOT BE AMUSED AT ALL. So, the next time you see such an animal in captivity, AS PET, feel free to be very upset, angry, baffled, etc.. And certainly DO not think these lemurs are so cute when kept in a jail with bars all around them. NEVER take a wildlife animal as pet in your house, or your yard. Doing this makes you a CRIMINAL !!

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx4 months ago

One has to admit that these lemurs are indeed very cute animals. When you see them in the trees, looking for food, or the little ones playing with each other, it is indeed so nice to see. But does that mean we need to have them as PETS ?? NO X 10,000. CERTAINLY NOT !! We have cats and dogs, the most common, then the horses, the rabbits, the cavia's, the rats, the little white mice, and many others. I must admit that I see dogs, cats, horses and rabbits as the most suitable, while the others are either pets because they are easy to be handled. Many also have all kind of birds as pets. THIS IS CRUEL !! Birds are here to FLY, high up in the sky !! Not to be "arrested" in tiny cages, and hang onto a wall just to hear them sing from time to time, when it are males. I wonder how many of those people even know why the males only sing their best song.... Certainly NOT ! But it sounds nice !! And fish in a big jar (way of speaking) to amuse us with their grace and colors. These animals are just PRISONERS as well, and are in no way PETS. Domesticated animals (like cows, goats, sheep etc.. who feel good around people and stay with us, because we provide them with nice hay, and other food and fresh water, However, as far as real wildlife animals are concerned, I AM TOTALLY AGAINST KEEPING THESE ANIMALS AS PETS. ../2

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Veronica B
Veronica B4 months ago

Tragic!!! Human greed only kill and destroy all in the planet...

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Kelsey S
Kelsey S4 months ago

Thanks

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michelle t
michelle m4 months ago

This is very upsetting.I have never met an animal that I have disliked,however I am unable to say the same about all humans.

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michelle t
michelle m4 months ago

Thi s

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