Ecology and the Living World
Researchers have recently announced that lemurs are the most endangered vertebrate organisms found in nature. The species nearest extinction is the northern sportive lemur, with only 18 left of its kind. Although the number of lemurs has continued to dwindle, some efforts have been made to prevent extinction. Specifically, the country of Madagascar has played a significant role. Madagascar is the only location on the planet to which lemurs are native. A group of 60 scientists recently met in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, to discuss the threatened species and what can be done to prevent their extinction. Christoph Schwitzer, expert and head of research at Bristol Zoo Gardens commented on the progress made at the workshop. According to Schwitzer, Madagascar is home to the greatest proportion of endangered species in the world. Although awareness of the endangered species has been raised, conditions in Madagascar have prevented further advances. Significantly, a coup overthrew the government in 2009 leaving the political sphere unstable. Unfortunately, the shift in political power brought with it an increase in poverty, as well as illegal lemur hunting and logging. Today, approximately 90% of the island’s plant life has been lost. Scientists speculate that this is the primary cause of the lemurs’ rapid decline. Looking into the future, approximately 30 to 40 projects aimed at saving the lemurs will be established in the next three years. While some of these projects may not be successful, the conference at Antananarivo speculated that approximately $5 million to $10 million will be spent on stabilizing the lemur population. Despite the many threats faced by lemurs all over the world, German scientist Peter Kappeller discovered a new species. This new species has not yet been named.