In an article published in high-impact journal, Science, this week, primatologist Dr Christoph Schwitzer (head of research at Bristol Zoo Gardens and vice-chair for Madagascar of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) SSC Primate Specialist Group) explains that there is still hope for lemurs despite the profound problems.
The article, led by Dr Schwitzer, was co-authored by 19 lemur conservationists and researchers, many of which are from Madagascar or have been working there for decades. It stresses the importance of implementing a new emergency three-year IUCN lemur action plan – recently published by Dr Schwitzer and other lemur experts from around the world – which outlines a way forward for saving Madagascar’s 101 lemur species.
The action plan contains strategies for 30 different priority sites for lemur conservation and aims to help fundraise for individual projects.
“Fact is that if we don’t act now, we risk losing a species of lemur for the first time since our records began,” Schwitzer explains. “Lemurs have important ecological and economic roles and are essential to maintaining Madagascar’s unique forests, through seed dispersal and attracting income through ecotourism. Their loss would likely trigger extinction cascades. The importance of the action plan cannot be overstated.”