Lemurs the world's most threatened mammal: study

Jul 14, 2012
Two red Madagascan lemurs, an endangered species, frolic in a daisy bed at Doué-la-Fontaine zoo in western France. Lemurs are the most endangered mammals on Earth, an International Union for Conservation of Nature conference found.

Lemurs, the furry apes brought to fame by the Disney animation film "Madagascar", are the most endangered mammals on Earth, an International Union for Conservation of Nature conference found.

An IUCN workshop met in Madagascar this week to discuss the world's 103 lemur species as conservation deteriorates amid political turmoil that has lasted three years.

"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," said Christoph Schwitzer, one of the conference organisers.

Over 90 percent of the world's lemur species -- found only on the Indian Ocean island -- were upgraded to critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable on the IUCN's Threatened Species list.

The destruction of the primates' tropical and an upsurge in bushmeat hunting have depleted lemur numbers since conservation efforts broke down after a coup in 2009, the body said in a statement late on Friday.

"Following this coup, there has been a serious breakdown of protective measures, with two key protected areas in northern Madagascar, Masoala National Park and Marojejy National Park, both of them part of a UNESCO complex of ."

"Political uncertainty has increased poverty and accelerated illegal logging. Hunting of these animals has also emerged as a more serious threat than previously imagined," it found.

The bush meat trade also affected tortoises and other species.

Madagascar's lemurs represent 20 percent of all primates, concentrated in an area less than one percent of global land area where apes roam.

These include the world's smallest primate at 30 grams, Madame Berthe's , and the blue-eyed black lemur, the only with blue eyes besides humans -- both endangered.

Since 2000, 40 new lemur species have been discovered.

Explore further: PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lemur's evolutionary history may shed light on our own

Feb 25, 2008

After swabbing the cheeks of more than 200 lemurs and related primates to collect their DNA, researchers at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP) and Duke Lemur Center now have a much clearer ...

Sir Richard's possible folly

Apr 25, 2011

Moving animals, like the ring-tailed lemur, from one continent to another to save the species hasn't been done often and typically isn’t successful.

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

21 hours ago

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.