The lemur is a wet-nosed primate of the Lemuroidea superfamily that is only found in Madagascar. Its classification has been controversial, which has led to the identification of a wide variety of species and whose number has changed as research progresses. Currently, there are many species of lemurs that are classified as endangered. What is happening to them?
In this article we delve into the subject as a way to inform about its state of conservation, but also to help raise awareness about the need to protect the planet.
Are lemurs in danger of extinction?
Unfortunately, to this question we must answer yes: there are species of lemurs that are in danger of extinction. Let us now list some of these species that are classified as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Critically Endangered Lemurs:
- Sibree’s dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus sibreei)
- Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae)
- Bemanasy mouse lemur (Microcebus spreads)
- Marohita mouse lemur (Microcebus marohita)
- Grey-headed lemur (Eulemur cinereiceps)
- Blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)
- Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur (Hapalemur alaotrensis)
- Golden bamboo lemur (Hapalemur aureus)
- Great bamboo lemur
- Red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra)
- Black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)
- Ahmanson’s sporting lemur (Lepilemur ahmansonorum)
- James’s jumping lemur (Lepilemur jamesorum)
- Mittermeier’s jumping lemur (Lepilemur mittermeieri)
- Sporting red-tailed lemur (Lepilemur ruficaudatus)
- Sahamalaza Jumping Lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis)
- Northern sporting lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)
- Hawk-jumping lemur (Lepilemur tymerlachsoni)
- Bemaraha’s woolly lemur (Avahi cleesei)
- Endangered Lemurs:
- Hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis)
- Bongolava mouse lemur (Microcebus bongolavensis)
- Collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris)
- Black lemur (Eulemur macaco)
- Ankarana sporting lemur (Lepilemur ankaranensis)
- Lemurs in a vulnerable state:
- Hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus crossleyi)
- Pygmy mouse lemur (Microcebus myoxinus)
- White-headed lemur (Eulemur albifrons)
- Red lemur (Eulemur rufus)
- Playful seal lemur (Lepilemur seali)
Why is the lemur in danger of extinction?
In short, there are many species of lemurs that are in danger of extinction, but they are all interconnected by the fact that humans are responsible for their plight. Next, we will explain the various causes of the current vulnerable state of the lemur:
Lemur populations are threatened by massive felling of trees for charcoal production. It should be noted that lemurs are generally arboreal, so removing the plant cover in which they live harms them irreversibly.
In addition, there are other reasons behind the deterioration of Madagascar’s forests:
Forest fires are an annual event in these forests.
Deforestation is also practiced to grow certain agricultural crops or to raise livestock.
In both cases, the result is the same: the loss of vegetation and, therefore, a drastic change in the habitat of the lemurs.
Other threats to lemurs that have led them to be in danger of extinction have to do with hunting, since some species are consumed for food, while others are sold as pets.
Some species have been severely wiped out, either due to lack of food, natural disasters, etc. An example of this is the grey-headed lemur (Eulemur cinereiceps), whose population crashed in 1997 due to a cyclone that exacerbated the human influences mentioned above.
Several species of lemurs are affected by climate change, such as the great bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus). Lemurs of this species are not only affected by climatic variations, but also by the availability of food. Climate change prolongs droughts, which harms bamboo (Cathariostachys madagascariensis), which is its main source of food.
Are there conservation plans for lemurs?
Lemurs, which are in danger of extinction, are the subject of some conservation plans. In general, these plans depend on the particular situation of each species, although the problems faced by lemurs are common to all species. Let’s take a look at the current plans:
- Several species of lemurs have been included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), whose objective is to protect endangered species through treaties with various countries. For example, all listed lemurs are excluded from hunting or capture and are under special management. Some cases included are: the Sibree dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus sibreei), Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae), the grey-headed lemur (Eulemur cinereiceps) and the blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), among others.
- Other measures for the conservation of lemurs are related to the establishment of protected areas in the places where these animals live. In this sense, certain forest areas are declared reserves, most of which are private.
- Educational programs have been proposed to sensitize children and young people, such as the Madame Berthe mouse lemur species (Microcebus berthae), which is considered a showcase in some areas of Madagascar.
- There are also some special conservation programs, such as the one for the great bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus), for which the Saving Prolemur simus project was created. This project was established by private organizations and community members.
- Research to improve taxonomy should continue in situations where questions remain to be resolved regarding subspecies, such as the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegate).
What can be done to prevent the lemur from becoming extinct?
Although action is being taken, the list of endangered lemur species remains long and growing, showing that much remains to be done. In a situation as complex as this, the action of governments is essential to stop the progression of the danger of these animals. Additionally, mass education programs are essential, as engaging the communities that inhabit these areas will undoubtedly produce more supporters who are actively involved in conserving lemur species.