Nearly all Madagascar's lemur species 'face extinction' - GulfToday

Nearly all Madagascar's lemur species 'face extinction'


A lemur jumps with a piece of carrot in his mouth at the zoological park "Planete Sauvage."

Almost all species of lemur, the small saucer-eyed primates native to Madagascar, face extinction, an international conservation body warned on Thursday, adding to its growing list of animals and plants under threat.


Of the 107 surviving lemur species on the island, some 103 are threatened, including 33 that are critically endangered -- the last stop before "extinct in the wild", the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said.


The organisation called for a fundamental reimagining of the way humanity interacts with the natural world, in an update to its "Red List of Threatened Species".


The list assesses 120,372 species and classifies more than 30,000 species as at risk of disappearing.


lemur2 Long Island Game Farm owner Melinda Novak feeds a pair of ring-tailed lemurs.


The report comes amid growing alarm that the planet may have already entered a period of so-called mass extinction, only the sixth in 500 million years.


The United Nations' biodiversity panel IPBES last year warned that up to one million species faced the risk of extinction as a result of humanity's insatiable desire for land and materials.


Lemurs, Madagascar's "treasure", are among the many precious species unique to the Indian Ocean island.


 'Substantial declines'


Among the lemurs newly listed as critically endangered are the Madame Berthe's Mouse lemur, the smallest primate in the world, and the Verreaux's Sifaka, part of the "leaping lemur" family.


Both have seen "substantial declines" because their habitats have been destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture and logging.


lemur3 Lemurs are seen at the Isalo National Park, in the Ihorombe Region of Madagascar.


Verreaux's Sifaka, which is known in one region as "sifaka of the cooking pot", is also threatened by hunting.


Across other parts of Africa, 53 percent of primate species -- 54 of 103 -- are now threatened with extinction, driven by bushmeat hunting and habitat loss, the IUCN report said.


Remco Van Merm, from its Global Species and Key Biodiversity Areas Programme, said the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was leaving some poor communities with "no choice but to resort to using natural resources to meet their daily needs".


Mittermeier said more lemurs may have already gone extinct if it was not for an initiative that helped fund local projects like ecotourism, reforestation and education.


While he expressed concern over the suspension of tourism due to the pandemic, he stressed that it "remains perhaps the best tool available" to ensure the survival of wild lemur populations.


Human threats


Among the other animals added to the IUCN's critically endangered list was the North Atlantic Right Whale, estimating that there were fewer than 250 adults at the end of 2018 -- some 15 percent lower than 2011.




Crawling to extinction: Singapore turtle haven fights for life


Sharks, rays face elevated risk of extinction


Gentle giraffes threatened with silent extinction


Climate change appeared to be pushing the whales further north during summer into the Gulf of St Lawrence off Canada, where they are more likely to be struck by boats or become entangled in crab pot ropes.


Their reproductive rates were found to have dropped, which was also a factor in driving the European Hamster on to the critically endangered list.


While a female hamster had an average of over 20 offspring a year during the last century, today they give birth to only five or six.


Related articles