New report raises lemur alarm

New report raises lemur alarm

The lemur king in the animated movie Madagascar might paint a rosy picture about the primates, but if enough care is not taken, future generations will see the beautiful animal only in cartoons.

A report released at the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity meeting on the sidelines of COP-11 here on Monday said that lemurs in Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa, are severely endangered due to habitat destruction and hunting.

‘Primates in Peril-2012-2014’, a report by experts, listed the world’s 25 most threatened primates, including six from Madagascar, five from Vietnam, three from Indonesia and two from Brazil.

“Primates are our closest living relatives... we have been discovering new species every year since 2000, but Madagascar lost 90 per cent of its lemurs,” said Russell Mittermeier, chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Conservation efforts, however, have come to the rescue of the Greater Bamboo lemur of Madagascar. An endangered species in the 2010-2012 report, it has been taken off the list this time. “The main threat is the destruction of their habitat, particularly deforestation,” said Christoph Schwitzer, head of research at the Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation.”

The report said Madagascar’s rarest lemur, the northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis), is now down to just 19 animals in the wild.

Indian scene

Sanjay Molur, Executive Director, Zoo Outreach Organisation, said there are 21 species and 42 sub species of primates in India. Gibbons and lion-tailed macaque of India, which were once enlisted as endangered, have been declared safe as their number increased considerably.

He felt that India faced a problem with regard to feeding of primates by humans for religious reasons.

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