Endemic and In Danger
These charismatic icons of the island continent are only found on Madagascar. Lemurs are Madagascar’s most distinctive global brand and a major asset in scientific, cultural, and economic terms.
Apart from being some of the most charismatic mammal species and being intrinsic to Madagascar, lemurs play critical ecological roles in maintaining the island’s forest habitats.
Healthy populations indicate a healthy environment and their loss could likely trigger extinction cascades. This would have likely disastrous consequences for local communities who depend on these habitats for their livelihoods, not least for revenues generated by lemur-based tourism.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, some 90% of lemur species are threatened with extinction due to habitat destruction caused by slash-and-burn agriculture and illegal logging, as well as hunting. Combined, these pressures have made lemurs the most threatened mammal group on earth.
Of the 111 lemur species, 24 are currently listed as ‘Critically Endangered’, 49 are ‘Endangered’ and 20 are ‘Vulnerable’. Consequently, fully implementing the Lemur Conservation Strategy published by the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group represents a unique chance of reversing this decline.
Lemur Conservation Strategy
Drawing on the collective expertise of primatologists forming the Primate Specialist Group of the IUCN SSC, the Lemur action plan, published in 2014, evaluated the conservation status of all lemur species and developed a targeted plan to prevent their extinction.
This roadmap to long-term lemur survival identifies 30 priority sites for conservation action together with recommended actions for site specific work to save Madagascar's lemurs from extinction while addressing the needs of communities who also depend on the species' long-term survival.
SOS Lemurs harnesses the aggregating potential of the SOS model: pooling funds from donors and disbursing them in the form of small to medium size grants to existing Madagascar-based conservation actors while applying world class project management to ensure every conservation dollar is used to its potential. The speed and scope of implementation will depend on the funding raised through public and private sector partners who wish to join SOS Lemurs.