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The big-eyed primates from Madagascar are in serious danger of extinction.
The Bristol Zoo reports that 90 percent of the lemur species is in danger of extinction, mainly caused by human interference with their habitats in native Madagascar. There has also been an increase in poaching of the animals, as well as a steep loss in funding for environmental programs that protect lemurs.
In an article published in the academic journal Science , Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, research frontman at the Bristol Zoo Gardens and vice-chair for Madagascar of the International Union for Conservation of Nature SSC Primate Specialist Group, spoke out about the plan to save the lemurs.
"Fact is that if we don’t act now, we risk losing a species of lemur for the first time since our records began," he said.
Schwitzer and other researchers outlined a large three-year plan for saving the lemurs, which included more management of Madagascar’s environmental conservation areas, creating more reserves that would be managed by local communities, and more long-term research in important lemur sites.
What makes the lemur so important? Schiwtzer explained that the lemur is "essential to maintaining Madagascar's unique forests, through seed dispersal and attracting income through ecotourism." He said he believes that their extinction would lead to the extinction of other animals as well.
The Science Recorder reports that of the 101 lemur species we know of, 22 are now classified as Critically Endangered, 48 are Endangered, and 20 are Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. These numbers cover about 94 percent of the species of lemurs for which there is enough information available about to assess.
image: By Rvb (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons