Of the 103 species of lemurs, over 90% should be on the Red List of Threatened Species. This is according to an assessment made by the Primate Specialist Group of the IUCN, BBC News Science and Environment reports.
Lemurs in the wild are only found in Madagascar, dubbed the ‘land of the lemurs’ as well as ‘the eight continent’ by some scientists for its rich biodiversity and many unique species found nowhere else in the world.
Species of lemurs are discovered in “staggering” numbers on the island, as stated in WWF’s 2011 report Treasure Island: New Biodiversity on Madagascar. 28 new species of lemurs have been discovered in the last 11 years alone, some of them including the world’s tiniest primates like the Berthe’s Mouse Lemur (Microcebus berthae), with an average body length of 92 millimeters. Dr. Christopher Golden of the US Harvard Center for the Environment came to the island in 1990 when there were only 34 known primate species. This has grown to more than 100 identified species of primates in 2011, he says in a BBC report last year. In the same article, he and other scientists discuss how lemur hunting for bushmeat has increased in past years, pushing many species of lemurs to critically endangered levels. This was a result of Madagascar’s traditional taboos being eroded by outside influences, lack of government enforcement, and an increasing demand for meat among locals. Madagascar has few sources of domestic meat and poultry raising was not viable as chickens tend to suffer from rainforest diseases. The result is an increasing pressure on lemur populations being hunted for food. Even protected species were being targeted.