Lemurs are Losing Their Habitat

By

Nicki Geigert 

Scientists are now warning the world that almost every Lemur species is at risk of extinction due to loss of habitat and the destruction of their tropical forest homes. With 90% of the Lemur population threatened with extinction, what is feasible to make the people aware of the problem and stop the onslaught of Lemur habitat loss? Apparently, the government is turning a blind eye to illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture, and mining operations in Madagascar. Additionally, the creation of preserves and their boundaries are ignored by many local tribes, because of ignorance and an oblivious attitude toward protecting one of the most unique mammals on the planet, found only in Madagascar.

Because of much tribal illiteracy, making education and awareness a priority is a significant hurdle to overcome. Part of that illiteracy has allowed the Chinese to purchase over 12,000 acres from poor Malagasy farmers who only see the money offered to them, but don’t understand that the land that has been in their families for generations is now no longer theirs. Then they are left homeless and without any means of supporting themselves.  That has become a major problem in Madagascar more recently. I have seen this with my own eyes since I lead photo trips to Madagascar. Malagasy people must not be cut off from their land, but must be made a part of the solution, rather than the cause of the problem, such as selling to the Chinese. The government must take responsibility for allowing this to happen.

Several tribes have been at the forefront of making positive changes by supporting conservation efforts and linking incentives to conservation efforts. The Malagasy people are mostly an amiable sort, and do support the tourist trade through ecotourism. When the people see and understand that increased international aid and resources can be available for them to make a good living through conservation efforts, then everyone is a winner, including the Lemurs.  

Another positive change has been introducing more cacao and vanilla tree farms that have attracted Lemurs since their regular habitats have been destroyed. There has been a co-existent development of Lemurs eating pesty insects from those trees, along with depositing shade tree seeds in their droppings. Lemurs are known as the seed dispersers of the rainforest.

Hopefully, the Malagasy government will become more aware and wise up to the problems they have created in their country, and will look for ways to provide for their people, and protect the unique and unusual animals that live in the most biodiverse place on the planet, which has 80% of the flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world.

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