In recent decades, Madagascar has seen 80% of its forests clear cut. This has had terrible consequences not just for people living on the island, but the wildlife that need these forests in order to survive.
To date, tentree has planted more than 1 million trees in Madagascar to help stop erosion and desertification, provide economic opportunities for locals, and also to protect vital habitats throughout Madagascar.
Madagascar is home to an incredibly diverse array of species, 90% of which don’t exist anywhere else in the world. The island nation is home to 111 known species of lemur, which is a small primate only found on Madagascar. Sadly, due to loss of habitat, hunting, and the illegal pet trade, 105 of the 111 species of lemur are categorized as threatened or endangered.
“The world loves lemurs,” says Russ Mittermeier, chief conservation officer for Global Wildlife Conservation and chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group. “But the government of Madagascar pays very little attention.”
When the primates were analyzed in 2012, 24 species were listed as critically endangered. It’s now believed that 38 species may qualify as critically endangered, and 44 more species may move from “threatened” to “endangered.”
The news isn’t all bad. 23 species of lemur are thought to be slightly safer, and two lemur species are considered to be “of least concern” by the IUCN.
Among the most endangered lemurs is the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, which is the world’s smallest known primate. The indri lemur, which is the largest of the lemurs, is also critically endangered.
Perhaps the most iconic lemur is the ring-tailed lemur. It is the lemur most likely to be found in zoos around the world and, for the first time, it is expected to be listed as endangered in the wild. Estimates show that its population may have decreased by as much as 95% since 2000.
So what can we do to help the lemurs? Mittermeir suggests paying Madagascar a visit yourself.
“Eco-tourism is the number-one conservation tool right now,” Mittermeier says. “The answer is empowering the communities and getting more and more people going there and showing the benefits of establishing protected areas to communities.” And eco-tourism plays an important role in that process.
“That’s about the best thing we can do at this point.”
Outside pressure from international governments, conservation groups, and even individuals like you can help move the government of Madagascar to do more on behalf of the lemurs. There are also a variety of lemur conservation groups that are always looking for support.