On the African island of Madagascar lives the lemur, but possibly not for too much longer. This wide-eyed primate species’ days may be numbered, as the lemur’s extinction risk rate is at a deadly high. With drastic decrease in lemur population in recent years, scientists are racing against time to find answers and solutions to help save this endangered species.
Recently, scientists and researchers have been paying more and more attention to the decreasing lemur population and assessing the damage. According to recent research, of the 103 species of lemur indigenous to Madagascar, over 90 of these different species are endangered and are at high risk for extinction. These lemur species have been placed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s list of highly threatened animals. Due to the diminishing number of these primates on the island, analysts have been putting the pieces together, discovering why the lemurs are suffering and determining what measures can be taken to ensure that these creatures do not become extinct.
There are many causes which have attributed to the lemur’s high extinction risk rate. According to researchers, one of the primary causes is the destruction of their natural habitat by farmers and developers, who illegally use slash-and-burn farming methods to harvest plants, as well as the excessive harvesting of rosewood and ebony trees, which ruins the lemur’s natural habitat. Also, due to political strife on the African island, many citizens have become burdened with poverty and have turned to hunting these primates as a source of nutrition. As Madagascar is the only place where lemurs live in the wild, there is much pressure being placed on the African island’s government and its citizens to remain accountable and consciously put an end to the hunting of lemurs and the destruction of their habitat.
At a recent emergency conference held to create an action plan for saving the lemurs, scientists have come up with a costly proposal. This $7.6 million plan is set to span over three years time and is trifold in its endeavors. The efforts of this plan include protecting the primate’s habitat from further destruction, creating more opportunities for scientists to further observe the animals, and raise funds and awareness through eco-tourism.
While funding may be difficult to come by to protect the lemurs, whose extinction risk rate is at a deadly high, scientists hope to raise money through eco-tourism. This newly devised way to travel is gaining popularity among environmentally-friendly and adventurous vacationers. Eco-tourism trips give travelers the chance to explore unique nature and wildlife, in this case going on an expedition to come in close contact with the African lemurs. In turn, a portion of the proceeds goes towards funding for protecting the environment, or in this case protecting the endangered lemurs. This method of tourism will also infuse capital into smaller villages on the island, helping some citizens earn a better living wage, thus protecting the lemurs from hunters.
With the combined efforts set out in this action plan, conservationists, scientists, and researchers alike hope to reduce the lemur species extinction risk rate which is at a deadly high, and keep this African primate alive for years to come.
By Allison Longstreet