Sunday, 28 August 2016

What conservation isn’t: Eating endangered lemurs to save them

23 August 2016 / Commentary by Kim Reuter / Marni Lafleur / Tara Clarke

Lemur conservation is an issue that requires coordinated, targeted, thoughtful, and sustained action. It also requires a deep understanding of local cultural norms, traditions, and potential consequences to one’s actions. We would wager a guess that consuming lemurs to save them does not meet these criteria.

Richard Bangs, Editor-at-Large for and a travel writer for the New York Times, Slate, and the Huffington Post, wrote a detailed account for the Huffington Post in which he described his quest to find and eat a Critically Endangered species, the red-ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra).

The wildlife trade represents the third-largest illegal trade in the world following the arms and drugs trades, and it threatens to wipe out numerous and diverse species across the globe.

Lemurs, endemic to Madagascar, now represent the most endangered group of mammals on Earth with more than 90 percent of the 113 species being threatened with extinction. Thus, lemurs are illegal to capture, kill, sell, or eat in Madagascar.

“I can get you a lemur if you want one,” said a sun-hardened Malagasy man after finishing up an interview, via translator, about his history of hunting lemurs. He could get us a dead crowned lemur in a week, tops. Shocked, we declined; there are less than 10,000 individuals of this species left in the wild.

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