An alarming decline of the ring-tailed lemur throughout Madagascar has researchers calling for quick action before this iconic primate goes extinct. Anthropologist and primatologist Lisa Gould co-authored a new study “Going, Going, Gone…Is the Iconic Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) Headed for Imminent Extirpation?” about the continued decline of the ring-tailed lemur population in Madagascar. The study is published this month in the journal Primate Conservation by the Primate Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission, a science-based network within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
“Ring-tailed lemur populations cannot survive in completely degraded habitats or under extreme hunting pressure,” added Gould.
The populations in Madagascar are threatened due to extreme destruction of habitat, unsustainable and illegal hunting for bushmeat and growth of the illegal pet trade. Gould is calling for a detailed survey to be done of three national parks where the primate is still known to exist: Andringitra, Tsimanampesotse and Isalo. These parks contain large tracts of forest and shelter, but the terrain is difficult to traverse, so technology such as drones with thermal imaging cameras could be used to enter these areas.
The ring-tailed lemur is listed as Endangered according the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, but this is based on an assessment conducted in 2012. The species’ current conservation status appears to be worse, which would make the ring-tailed lemur to be one of the most endangered mammals on the planet. Even within national parks and protected areas they are not safe: in one national park they are now extinct, and at two others, they exist either in extremely low numbers or not at all. Gould and co-author Michelle Sauther from the University of Colorado are senior researchers with over 30 years of experience each with the ring-tailed lemur of Madagascar and they estimate no more than 2,000 to 2,400 still remain in the wild.
(Source: University of Victoria media release, 19.12.2016)