Target: President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar
Goal: Save the overlooked Aye-aye from destructive habitat loss and slaughter
The Aye-aye is a lemur native to Madagascar whose status as an endangered species is often overlooked, likely because it is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is creeping closer to extinction, however, and if something is not done to protect it, we face losing a species for the simple fact that it is not traditionally beautiful.
The little-known Aye-aye is a tree-dwelling primate that lives off of grubs found by tapping on trees and chewing through the bark and using its long middle finger to reach the insects within in a hunting method similar to the woodpecker. Aye-ayes are the largest nocturnal primate in the world and are found only in Madagascar, where they are rapidly disappearing due to loss of habitat.
The strange-looking primates are also considered a bad omen to the people of Madagascar and many natives kill them on sight. The Aye-aye lives in the rainforest and rarely travels to the ground, which means that the clearing of forest leaves the Aye-aye with nowhere to go. This interesting primate has been listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, which allows the animal certain legal protections, but a lack of awareness and publicity—most likely due to its appearance—keeps it from getting the backing it really needs. The public must step in to save this creature and end the local stigma surrounding the Aye-aye.
Urge the government of Madagascar to support campaigns to change local perceptions of the endangered Aye-aye and promote more severe punishments for killing it.
Dear President Rajaonarimampianina,
The Aye-aye is an endangered, nocturnal animal, native to Madagascar, whose strange appearance could play a key role in its extinction unless steps are taken to change its image. The primate is considered an ill omen in parts of Madagascar and locals will kill it on sight to avoid its supposed curse. The animal is offered certain protections because of its endangered status, but without the involvement of those who pose the greatest threat to its survival, saving the Aye-aye is a fool’s errand.
In order to protect this animal, its image as a bad luck token must be changed and anyone who kills the Aye-aye must face appropriately harsh punishment for their actions. A government campaign to educate the people of Madagascar about the lives, habitats and ecological function of the Aye-aye could very well save its life.
I urge you to work to change the stigma around the odd-looking Aye-aye by educating people about what the animal really is: A unique species worthy of our respect.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tom Junek via Wikimedia Commons