Policy ForumConservation

Averting Lemur Extinctions amid Madagascar's Political Crisis

Science  21 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6173, pp. 842-843
DOI: 10.1126/science.1245783

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The most threatened mammal group on Earth, Madagascar's five endemic lemur families (lemurs are found nowhere else) (1), represent more than 20% of the world's primate species and 30% of family-level diversity. This combination of diversity and uniqueness is unmatched by any other country—remarkable considering that Madagascar is only 1.3 to 2.9% the size of the Neotropics, Africa, or Asia, the other three landmasses where nonhuman primates occur. But lemurs face extinction risks driven by human disturbance of forest habitats. We discuss these challenges and reasons for hope in light of site-specific, local actions proposed in an emergency conservation action plan (2).