Lemurs: World’s Most Endangered Mammal

Target: Mr. Herilanto Raveloharison, Minister of Environment and Forests (Madagascar)

Goal: Provide better protection for Madagascar’s highly endangered lemur populations.

With their beady eyes and angular faces, lemurs can certainly seem more like opossums and other marsupials rather than the primates they actually are. Lemurs, as it turns out, are some of the oldest living primates in the world, having evolved somewhere between 62 and 65 million years ago. By catching a ride atop mats of flora, lemurs arrived to their eventual home—Madagascar—shortly thereafter and continue to live there (and only there) today.

But while they remain the reigning royalty of the large Indian Ocean island, lemurs have seen better days. At a recent conference hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the statuses of 90 percent of the primates have been upgraded to critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. “Madagascar has, by far, the highest proportion of threatened species of any primate habitat region or any one country in the world,” explained Christoph Schwitzer, primatologist and one of the conference’s organizers. “As a result, we now believe that lemurs are probably the most endangered of any group of vertebrates.”

Continuous habitat destruction on the island, as well as a rise in bushmeat hunting, has pushed the lemurs to the edge of extinction. Additionally, political unrest has slowed down much of the country’s necessary conservation efforts. “Political uncertainty has increased poverty and accelerated illegal logging. Hunting of these animals has also emerged as a serious threat than previously imagined,” said the IUCN in a statement.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Raveloharison,

The world is in serious danger of losing some of its most unique and memorable mammals. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a whopping 90 percent of lemurs have taken a huge step closer to the brink of extinction—leaving some dangling well over the edge.

Excessive logging and hunting within the country have left the animals backed up against a wall without a proper defense. As Madagascar is the only place lemurs call home, it is even more important that conservation efforts within the country are held strong.

Before it is too late, I ask that Madagascar’s Ministry of Environment and Forests take the reins and help with the recovery of these incredibly unique animals.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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