31% of lemur species are critically endangered | WWF

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31% of lemur species are critically endangered

An update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species reveals that nearly a third, or 31% of all lemur species in Madagascar are now Critically Endangered.

This update concludes a review of all African primate assessments, indicating that more than half of all primate species in the rest of Africa are threatened. Madagascar's iconic species are one step away from extinction as 98% are threatened: 13 lemur species have been pushed to higher categories of threat due to increased human pressure. The Verreaux's Sifaka and the world's smallest primate, the Berthe's Microcebe, have moved from the "Endangered" (EN) to the "Critically Endangered" (CR) category. According to the report, 33 species of lemurs are Critically Endangered and 103 of 107 species are threatened with extinction.

These species are in significant decline as their forest habitats continue to be destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture, charcoal and fuelwood exploitation. Hunting also threatens lemurs although it is illegal and considered taboo or "fady" in some areas of Madagascar.

Thanks to IUCN's lemur conservation strategy through the SOS Lemurs projects, lemurs such as the Maki catta in the spiny forest of southwest Madagascar and the Silky Sifaka in the Northern Highlands are protected. "We work with local communities in lemur conservation actions through peer education, patrols to detect poaching, ecological monitoring and restoration of their habitats using the latest available technologies such as drones. "says Simon Rafanomezantsoa from WWF.

There is still a long way to go, but the remarkable work of the communities, local organizations and scientists who work tirelessly give us a glimmer of hope to save the lemurs.