Photo Credit: Russ Mittermeier

IUCN’s Save Our Species announces SOS Lemurs – an SOS Special Initiative


By aligning closely with the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Primate Specialist Group’s Lemur Action Plan published in 2014, this SOS Special Initiative, titled SOS Lemurs, is an application of needs based conservation action in a nutshell.

Credits : Russ Mittermeier

And to capitalise on this, SOS will be match-funding donations received before 31st December 2015. You can donate directly on the SOS donate page here.

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.

In this respect, SOS is actively engaging with public and private sector donors interested to join and leverage this partnership to help achieve their strategic environmental conservation goals concerning Malagasy biodiversity and ecosystems.

SOS Lemurs is also an excellent example of IUCN’s unique ability to convene and leverage the energies of various stakeholders in the global conservation community to achieve needs based conservation goals. In this case, SOS Lemurs connects donors with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, the IUCN Species Survival Commission and the Lemur Conservation Network – a coalition of 40 NGOs united to streamline conservation in Madagascar.

According to the IUCN Red List, over 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.

Still, some might ask why protect lemurs? Dr. Russ Mittermeier, Executive Vice-Chair of Conservation International, an IUCN Member is succinct. “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 as we know it, according to Dr. Mittermeier’s colleague Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, 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.

Cue the development of the Lemur Action Plan in 2013. Drawing on the collective expertise of primatologists forming the Primate Specialist Group of the IUCN SSC, this project evaluated the conservation status of all lemur species and developed a targeted plan to prevent their extinction. The total cost of which is estimated at USD $8 million.

Focusing on 30 of the highest priority areas for lemur conservation where site-based activities should be developed the plan is a roadmap to long-term lemur survival. The speed and scope of implementation will depend on the funding raised through public and private sector partners who wish to join SOS Lemurs.

Interested parties can download the SOS Lemurs proposal document here . Meanwhile, immediate partnership queries should be directed to Dr. Jean-Christophe Vié , Director of SOS – Save Our Species.  

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