Madagascar is a large island in the Indian Ocean that separated from the African mainland millions of years ago. Due to this separation from the African mainland, Madagascar is home to animals and birds that are found no place else on this earth.
One of the animals that Madagascar is most well-known for is the lemur. There are many different lemur species that live on the island. Some lemurs are as small as a mouse, and others are as large as some larger monkey and ape species. Lemurs have roughly the same appearance no matter their size, and they are members of the primate family.
This week, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) issued an alarming report about the state of the lemurs in Madagascar. According to the IUCN report, 95 percent of the lemur species are on the verge of becoming extinct. As of now, scientists have determined that there are 111 species of lemur. Of these 111 species, 105 species are threatened with extinction in the near future.
The IUCN has broken down the danger to lemurs into various categories of threat. The IUCN reports that 38 lemur species are what they refer to as critically endangered. Another 44 species are listed as simply endangered with 23 species are listed as threatened.
Of those lemurs that are on the critically endangered list, there are three lemurs that are in the worst shape. The indri lemur is one of the three. This is the largest lemur that is in existence. The smallest lemur called the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur is also one of the three. The blue-eyed black lemur is also on the list. This lemur is noted for its blue eyes. It is one of only a handful of the members of the primate family besides humans that has blue eyes.
Scientists have identified several reasons for the endangered status of lemurs in Madagascar. The major problem is habitat destruction. Large areas of the island have been deforested in order to produce more agricultural crops. Mining is also big business in Madagascar leading to the loss of habitat and the poisoning of streams and waterways.
The IUCN has developed a Lemur Action Plan. The group hopes to educate citizens about the plight of lemurs. The hope is to get the government to preserve more space for wildlife in the dwindling forests of Madagascar.