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12 September 2013 - Australians Help Give Lemurs Their Last Chance      

Australians Help Give Lemurs Their Last Chance

12 September, 2013  

An incredible 91% of all lemur species are threatened with extinction and urgent action is required to reverse this decline.  To address this crisis a new conservation plan and fund has been created and launched by 60 of the world’s leading scientists to combat the increasing demise of the lemurs of Madagascar.

Michael Kennedy, HSI Australia Director (Humane Society International) said, “HSI is proud to be one of the founding donors to this strategy through the global Rapid Response Fund for Lemur Conservation.  The generosity of HSI’s 60,000 members has enabled HSI to commit $100,000 over three years to the project.”

With some 90% of the original vegetation already destroyed and much of what remains severely fragmented throughout the country, individual colonies are now struggling in a dangerously shrinking environment.  Critical lemur habitats continue to be devastated by illegal logging, out of control wild fires, slash and burn subsistence farming, illegal poaching for the cruel live animal trade, illegal hunting for food, unrest and anarchy since the military coup, and the subsequent withdrawal of international funding support.

The new strategy’s vision is to prevent lemur extinctions, ensure their long-term survival, and implement actions that improve livelihoods of local communities.  This will be achieved by:

  • Working closely with local communities: Madagascar has a strong tradition of community conservation and some have already created their own community reserves abutting critical protected areas.  Without the cooperation and support of the local people, protection efforts are simply not sustainable – the lemurs could not otherwise survive.
  • The development of lemur ecotourism: Lemurs are already Madagascar’s top tourist attraction.  Primate Ecotourism, especially primate watching, is taking off and Madagascar is the number one destination for primate ecotourism in the world.  Such ecotourism, properly managed, can be their eventual saviour.
  • A long term research presence:  It has been proven time and time again that one of the best possible deterrents to poaching is a strong research staff presence.  This kind of scientific activity works closely with local communities, provides employment, enhances understanding, and crucially, serves as an effective watchdog against illegal activities.

Michael Kennedy, HSI Australia Director said, “Without broad community support for Lemur conservation this could truly be the lemurs’ last stand.”

IUCN Lemur Conservation Strategy:  http://data.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2013-020.pdf

HSI Australia Lemur action: http://www.hsi.org.au/?catID=860

Humane Society International (HSI) has been supporting on-ground wildlife and habitat protection programs around the world for over a decade, funding hundreds of projects in over 30 countries.

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