Lemursare nocturnal, insectivorous primates that belong to the sub-order Strephsiri.
They share this suborder with other animals such as lorises, bush babies, and pottos.They are characterized by a long nose, a small body, and large eyes. Madagascar,for centuries, has provided a haven for lemurs, which appear to exist onlybecause of Madagascar’s isolation and unique climate and landscape. It isinteresting to note that Madagascar lacks the kind of primates that aredominant all over the world-chimps, monkeys, and gorillas-which belong to thesub-order Haplorhini. Today, over 30 species across five families and 14 generainhabit Madagascar. Lemurs of the sub-order Strepsirrhines are reported to havesurvived extinction in their early years on Madagascar because of their uniquesolitary, insectivorous and nocturnal traits. The rest are reported to havedriven to extinction by more intelligent and adaptive primates. Modern-day lemurshave spread themselves throughout the entirety of Madagascan ecosystems andshare many behavioral and social tendencies that are usually associated withmonkeys.
These include feeding on fruits and plant matter, daytime activity,and living in groups.Today,the threat of extinction has come back to haunt the lemurs. The lemur had beenenjoying Madagascar’s favorable climate, water, and abundant vegetation untilman first stepped on the island.
Consistent with environmentalists’ belief thatthe human species is the most significant danger to the planet, human activity(hunting and deforestation) has led to the disappearance of an excess of 14species of lemurs. The destruction of Madagascar’s lemur-friendly conditionshas been taking place since man arrived on the island 2,000 years ago. Thedriving of lemurs toward extinction has had the most significant impact on thelargest species –today the biggest surviving species is the Indri which isconsiderably smaller than long gone species.
Today, all lemurs are classifiedas endangered species. This report seeks to discuss the threat to the lemur andthe possible solutions that may be effective in saving the lemur fromextinction. This article will be based on the hypothesis that human activity iscentral to the extinction threat to lemurs and that lack of sufficientcommunity involvement is the biggest challenge towards conversational effortsfor the lemur (Gorenflo et al., 2011).Threats to the lemurSeveralfactors have contributed to the status of lemurs as one of the most endangeredspecies on the planet.
These include the extensive destruction of theirhabitat. Madagascar’s landscape, which initially included extensive forests, isnow slowly being taken over by rice plantations. Most inhabitants of Madagascarare illiterate farmers whose primary source of livelihood is in cash cropfarming (Gorenflo et al., 2011). Madagascar’s farmers have over the yearsadopted a “slash and burn” mode ofagriculture to pave the way for arable land. The forestland, and in extension,the home to the lemurs, has been widely cut down or set ablaze as farmersdemand more hectares for rice growing for the survival of their families (Desbureau & Brimont,2015).
Also, lemurs have been hunted in a poorlyregulated manner despite the fact that they are classified as endangeredspecies. The first inhabitants of Madagascar hunted large lemurs to the verylast of them. Even though the Madagascar government declared it illegal to killor keep as pets lemurs since the 1960s, they are still hunted where they arenot protected by local taboos. Moreover, the introduction of species not nativeto Madagascar has helped deplete the island of many lemurs. These alien speciesnot only compete with the lemur for limited forest resources but like man, alsokill them.
The lemur is now prey to the mongoose and the Indian civet, and evendomestic cats and dogs have turned into predators to lemur species. Also,lemurs have been one of the biggest casualties of global warming. Inconsistentrainfall patterns have limited the multiplication of lemur species.
Accordingto recent research, rain is essential for the survival of baby lemurs, whoseteeth development is directly correlated to rainfall patterns. There is an activelink between tooth deterioration and rainfall level-simply put, lemurs, ifremoved from their wet habitats or if exposed to drier conditions, can hardlysurvive because their ability to feed is negatively impacted. Conservational solutionsfor the LemurConversationalists,in collaboration with the government of Madagascar, have made many attemptsgeared towards preserving the existence of the lemur.
The government has created thousands offorest reserves geared towards preservation of endangered native species. Forinstance, the establishment of Makira protected area brought the total area ofland and marine zones under protection to one million hectares. The park andreserve system-the System of Protected Areas of Madagascar have helped protectspecies that were losing their habitats by reducing deforestation. However, forest reserves and the park systemencounter financial shortage(Gimenez, 2012).When Makira national park wasestablished in 2005, it seemed to present a solution to one of the mostcritical problems to conservation – a sustainable source of funds that could berelied on year after year. New York-based NGO Wildlife Conservation Societylaunched the REDD+ model to serve as a protective and durable strategy for theforest’s abundant carbon reserves.
The sale of” carbon offset credits,” thatwere supposed to fund the project have however been disappointing. To date,carbon buyers are scarce, thus severely derailing efforts focused on reducingdeforestation. It was expected that vast financial resources would beobtained-enough to support the community through profitable initiatives thatwould discourage them from cutting down trees. Aside from funding, lemurs havebeen observed to do poorly in captivity, to the extent of hardly reproducing- afact that could render reserves as regressive projects toward conservation oflemurs (Gimenez, 2012).Moreover,the Madagascan government has passed several that prohibit invasion of forestland. These laws are the origin ofinitiatives such as the System of Protected Areas of Madagascar (Gimenez, 2012).However, there is a severe educational gap that hinders adherence to theseregulations.
Madagascans, most of whom are illiterate, tend to obey traditionalcustoms and refuse to follow laws that appear to be bent towards denying themthe right to a source of living. Most of the locals feel that theconservational laws are oppressive and tend to despise them. Moreover, failureby the government to comprehensively fact in the community while coming up withlegislative agendas on conservation of wildlife makes them less useful (Desbureaux & Brimont, 2015).
Conservationallaws have regardless, been beneficial as they have helped set the foundationfor many environmental programs. Also,conservational groups such as the Madagascar Fauna Group, UNESCO, and LemurConservational Foundation have tried to factor in the most crucial challenge tothe conservation of lemurs- the alleviation of poverty (Rasolofosonet al., 2015) .
The PHE approach -Population Health and Environment approach isgeared towards a holistic perspective to the endangerment of lemurs. Theapproach focuses not only on wildlife but on Madagascans as well. In summary,if humans surrounding wildlife are happy and content, then they will see no needof harming the ecosystem (Gorenflo et al., 2011). The human-wildlife conflict,in this context, arises because of the government putting the needs of agrowing population ahead of that of its citizens.
The population of Madagascaralone is expected to double by 2060, an event that could spell doom for thelemur. Therefore, the Lemur Conservation has teamed up with teamed with NGOMarie Stopes Madagascar to introduce family planning to the natives. Thereduction in population growth to a level that the environment can sustainwould be beneficial for both man and animal. However, Madagascans are deeplyreligious people who would hesitate to implement contraceptive methods.
Itwould also take a long time to create awareness of family planning to theextent of having a significant impact on the country’s rapid population growth.Also, conservational groups have introduced reforestation initiatives,ecotourism development and environmental education programs to encourage theinvolvement of the community in the conversation of the lemur, among otherwildlife species (McConnell, 2014). Moreover,the teaching of farmers on sustainable agriculture methods has been effectivein limiting rampant deforestation (McConnel, 2014). The introduction offuel-efficient stoves in the country has also had a small but influentialreduction impact on deforestation.
However, community-based programs have thechallenge of depending on community goodwill, which is not a guarantee Rasolofosonet al., 2015). For instance, Community Forest Management Units –wherecommunities manage their areas of forest in the hope that they will beresponsible enough to exploit forest resources with conservation in mind-haveprimarily been a failure because deforestation did not reduce at all. The failureof CFM units can be attributed to piecemeal law enforcement, lack of trainingand complex regulatory framework (Gorenflo et al., 2011).Manymilestones have been achieved in the conservation of lemur species. Theseinclude forest preservation, family planning efforts, and legislation in favorof the lemur.
Encroachment of forest land by farmers has nonetheless been ahuge stumbling block for environmentalists. Recommendations from this reportinclude the inclusion of local leaders and community personalities in coming upwith policies intended to save lemur species. Moreover, both the government andnon-governmental organizations must improve the educational system inMadagascar and help the youth start projects that could help them make moneyoutside farming.
Also, the government must implement stricter measures to curbdeforestation by including more forest land into government-supervised zones.