Primate experts from around the world have come together to write a 185 page document outlining a three-year strategy for the conservation of the lemurs of Madagascar.
In 2012 leading conservationists gathered at a summit meeting organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission to review the conservation status of the world’s then 103 (meanwhile 104) lemur species – the most endangered mammal group in the world.
Of the 103 species 24 are now classified ‘Critically Endangered’, 49 are ‘Endangered’, and 20 are ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, equating to almost 94 percent of the world’s lemur species for which sufficient data were available to enable their assessment against the Red List criteria.
Lemurs are in danger of becoming extinct due to the destruction of their tropical forest habitat on their native island of Madagascar, off Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, through subsistence agriculture and illegal logging. Lemurs are also increasingly hunted for food.
Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Head of Research at Bristol Zoo Gardens, is a world leading primatologist and the lead editor of the Lemur Conservation Strategy 2013-2016.
“The strategy effectively contains 30 action plans for 30 different priority sites for lemur conservation,” he says. “Our aim will be to use the document to help fundraising for individual projects. The fact is that if we don’t act now we risk losing a species of lemur for the first time in two centuries. The importance of the projects we’ve outlined in this document simply cannot be overstated.”
The document had a total of 83 authors and the species are divided into threat categories. The projects all have individual funding targets from $50,000 to $500,000 equating to a budget of $7.628 million over three years.
“There are three things we know work when it comes to tackling conservation in the field, which are cheap and simple to implement in different areas,” says Dr. Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International and Chair of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. “First working on grassroots projects with local communities so people can make a difference for themselves, secondly supporting eco-tourism projects and thirdly establishing research stations as a permanent facility to protect against loggers and hunters.”
The document will be officially launched in Madagascar on Wednesday 31st July to an audience of ambassadors, NGOs, Ministers, government officials, fundraisers, foundations and media.
“I am an optimist, so I wouldn’t give up on any species of lemur,” continues Dr Schwitzer. “This document shows how well people can work together when species are on the brink. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved here but the hard work is yet to come.”
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public to fund its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
Resources for Media
Proposed budgets for the Lemur Action Plan 2013-2016 projects
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Notes to editors
Bristol Zoo Gardens
· Bristol Zoo is open from 9am every day except Christmas Day.
· Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on income from visitors and supporters to continue its important work.
· It employs over 150 full and part-time staff to care for the animals and run a successful visitor attraction to support its conservation and education work.
· Bristol Zoo supports – through finance and skill sharing - 15 projects in the UK and abroad that conserve and protect some of the world’s most endangered species.
· Bristol Zoo Gardens is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. BIAZA represents more than 90 member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.
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IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.
The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland. www.iucn.org