Life has been a little rough for lemurs these days. The little mammals (ranging in weight from one ounce to 20 pounds), who are primates native to the island country of Madagascar, are in big trouble. At this time, over 90 percent of the 106 known lemur species are in grave danger. This is a substantial increase from six years ago, in 2008, when the less than half of the lemur species were at risk, and question has now risen: Can they be saved before it is too late for these little creatures?
As it stands, lemurs are currently the most threatened group of mammals in the world, according to animal experts. Scientists sent out a major warning on Thursday about the possible fate of the lemurs if a plan of action was not put into place immediately. As a result, experts are now putting into action a three-year emergency plan to save the lemurs that are in danger before is too late, since right now, the vast majority of the animal group is facing being wiped off the face of the Earth for good. The plan to save the endangered creatures, experts say, is ambitious but still attainable. If it succeeds, they can be saved before it is too late.
The animal experts are also saying that if the plan is to work and the lemurs are to be saved, reserves and sanctuaries must be created by the people in the surrounding communities and, in addition, expanding and promoting ecological education and ecotourism is an absolute must. They say that extinction could begin happening very soon if no proper preventative action is taken or succeeds. A group of scientists in Britain created the plan to protect the lemurs earlier this week. It advocates for a small amount of international funds, likely provided through ecotourism, and also for specific sites to protect the lemurs, among several other requirements.
Factors in the lemur extinction threat currently include humans disturbing the creatures’ habitats by way of slash-and-burn farming, which is illegal. Another factor is the end of programs having to do with conservation and environmentalism after Madagascar’s political crisis, which lasted for five years. Experts in the matter say that the lemur issue was no doubt perpetuated by the political crisis. In addition, there has also been a large amount of poaching of the animals, which has contributed greatly to their demise.
There are many species of lemurs in danger, but the rarest species, the Northern Sportive lemur, only has 50 left in existence. Lemurs are a breed of primate that is 62 million years old, and less evolved than apes, monkeys, and humans. It appeared on earth only shortly after dinosaurs went extinct, so scientists know that it would be a shame for it to disappear. The experts think that with a plan of action, the primitive creature can be saved before it is too late, but only with people’s cooperation and willingness to educate themselves on the matter.
By Laura Clark