Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Future of Madagascar's lemurs

Climate change will force most of Madagascar’s wild lemurs to shift their ranges over the next 70 years, a new study suggests. The vulnerable primates are also under pressure from deforestation and subsistence hunting – so what hope is there for the enigmatic but highly threatened animals?

Presented by
Michelle Douglass

With their wide-eyed, eerie stare and night time activity, lemurs are spectre-like figures of Madagascar's forests: 'lemur' means ghost in Latin, and it is not difficult to see how the enigmatic and elusive animals got their name.

The unique group of primates are found only in Madagascar. But they are thought to be the most threatened mammal group on Earth. Of the 101 lemur species, 22 are critically endangered, 48 are endangered and 20 are vulnerable, according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.

Ten years ago “everybody was very optimistic” about saving lemurs, says Anne Yoder, director of the Duke Lemur Centre in Durham in the US, who led the new study looking at how climate change is likely to impact Madagascar’s lemurs.

But in 2009 a coup catapulted the country into turmoil and an offshoot was that many conservation plans were destabilised.

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