Animals

Published on July 15th, 2012 | by James Ayre

2

Lemurs Are The World's Most Threatened Mammal, Study Says

July 15th, 2012 by

 
20120714-225955.jpg

Lemurs are the world’s most endangered mammals, an International Union for Conservation of Nature conference has found.

Lemurs are a very diverse group of primates endemic to Madagascar.

An IUCN workshop met this week in Madagascar in order to discuss the Earth’s 103 remaining lemur species — conservation efforts there have been deteriorating the past couple of years amid political turmoil.

“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 primatologist Christoph Schwitzer, one of the conference organisers.

20120714-230019.jpg
More than 90 percent of the Earth’s lemur species were upgraded to critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable on the IUCN’s Threatened Species list. Lemurs are only found on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

The continued destruction of their tropical forest habitat, and a continuing upsurge in bushmeat hunting, has greatly depleted lemur numbers since conservation efforts began to fail after a coup in 2009, the IUCN 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 World Heritage Sites.”

“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.”

20120714-230100.jpg
“These include the world’s smallest primate at 30 grams, Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, and the blue-eyed black lemur, the only ape species with blue eyes besides humans — both endangered.”

40 new lemur species have been discovered in only the last 12 years.

Some basic information on Lemurs:

“Lemurs are a clade of strepsirrhine primates endemic to the island of Madagascar. The word ‘lemur’ derives from the word lemures (ghosts or spirits) from Roman mythology and was first used to describe a slender loris due to its nocturnal habits and slow pace, but was later applied to the primates on Madagascar.”

20120714-230201.jpg

“Although lemurs often are confused with ancestral primates, the anthropoid primates (monkeys, apes, and humans) did not evolve from them; instead, lemurs merely share morphological and behavioral traits with basal primates.”

“Lemurs arrived in Madagascar around 62 to 65 mya by rafting on mats of vegetation at a time when ocean currents favored oceanic dispersal to the island. Since that time, lemurs have evolved to cope with an extremely seasonal environment and their adaptations give them a level of diversity that rivals that of all other primate groups.”

“Until shortly after humans arrived on the island around 2,000 years ago, there were lemurs as large as a male gorilla. Today, there are nearly 100 species of lemurs, and most of those species have been discovered or promoted to full species status since the 1990s.”

Source: AFP and Wikipedia
Image Credits: Catta, Lemur, Indri and Murinus via Wikimedia Commons

Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.





Tags: , , , , , ,


About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • nobody

    This article is complete BS! there are HUNDREDS of lemur species in Indonesia, with thriving populations even on Java, one of the most developed islands in the nation! I have had Lemurs fall into my home at night because they were prowling under the roof and found a weak spot in my ceiling. There are even flying lemurs on Java! No serious threat exists to these populations at all…

    • Nathan

      The animals commonly called ‘lemurs’ that live in Indonesia aren’t lemurs,
      And it’s true they aren’t endangered.

      True lemurs live only in Madagascar since 60 or so million years ago, they had far more diversity before humans arrived on the island 2000 years ago, and they are rapidly going extinct.

      The animals that live in other parts of the world that may be called ‘lemurs’ are not closely related at all, those other animals aren’t even primates.

Back to Top ↑