According to a new research, it seems that lemurs, those small furry mammals that are almost exclusively indigenous to the African island of Madagascar (if you’re having trouble figuring them, just watch the film "Madagascar", and you’ll see them for the unusual mammals they are) are at risk of extinction, being far more endangered than once thought.
According to a report compiled by the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, more than nine in ten of the 103 known lemur species are threatened and at the top of the list of the most endangered vertebrates and indeed, animals. The IUCN said that more than 90 percent of the 103 lemur species could possibly be placed on the Red List of Threatened Species, whereas 23 lemur species have been designated as Critically Endangered. In itself, "Critically Endangered" means that less than 50 mature adults remain in the wild or that the particular specie population has dwindled by 80 percent over a period of 10 years.
Furthermore, the report designates 52 lemur species as Endangered, whereas 19 have been termed Vulnerable to Extinction.
But according to a previous report on lemurs, published in 2008, the numbers were quite different, with 8 species being Critically Endangered, 18 Endangered and 14 as Vulnerable.
Commenting upon the study, chairman of the specialist group and president of Conservation International Russ Mittermeier said, “That (the numbers) means that 91% of all lemurs are assessed as being in one of the Red List threatened categories, which is far and away the largest proportion of any group of mammals."
IUCN advisor and Bristol Zoo Gardens’ head of research primatologist Dr. Christoph Schwitzer added, “The results of our review workshop this week have been quite a shock as they show that Madagascar has, by far, the highest proportion of threatened species of any primate habitat region or any one country in the world. As a result, we now believe that lemurs are probably the most endangered of any group of vertebrates.”
It is believed that these shocking new numbers stem from the increased logging and deforestation, which has led to the destruction of the lemur’s natural habitat and a new phenomena, that is hinting the lemurs, which Dr. Schwitzer says "we never saw before.”
While conservation efforts were underway to enforce legal protection to lemurs, this has since diminished considerably following a coup in 2009. Dr. Mittermeier further said, “Several national parks have been invaded, but of greater concern is the breakdown in control and enforcement. There's just no government enforcement capacity, so forests are being invaded for timber, and inevitably that brings hunting as well.”
It is believed that almost 90 percent of the African isle’s original forests have been cut and the remaining forests are now overburdened, trying to sustain Madagascar’s wildlife and it too is at risk. However, while the IUCN report is indeed dire, during the course of gathering data, researchers were surprised to discover some new species of lemur, including the 103rd lemur specie to be found, an as yet unnamed mouse lemur.