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Threats To Lemur Survival

At least 14 species of Madagascar lemurs have become extinct since humans colonized the island about 2,000 years ago. The remaining species are all in danger of extinction as the human population continues to expand, requiring space, food, and firewood. Lemur species that eat a relatively wide variety of food will be more likely to survive as their habitat diminishes.

Lemurs are protected by Madagasy law, but they are still often hunted as a delicacy. Some lemurs are killed for superstitious reasons, but others are protected for the same reasons. For example, some tribes believe the indri takes on the souls of their ancestors, therefore they are opposed to killing these lemurs. On the other hand, some tribes regard the presence of an aye-aye near a village as a signal of coming death, and they quickly kill these animals when they find them.

All lemurs need protection, and does their remaining habitat. Some species can be bred in captivity. Successful captive-breeding programs have been established for the black lemur and the ruffed lemur, with the hope of returning the offspring to Madagascar. Indris and ayeayes, on the other hand, have proved very difficult to maintain, let alone breed, in captivity.



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Jean F. Blashfield


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Dental comb

—A group of lower incisor teeth on most prosimians that have moved together into a horizontal position to form a grooming tool.


—Refers to animals that are mainly active in the daylight hours.

Grooming claw

—A claw located on the second hind toe of many prosimians, used for grooming the fur.


—Active in or related to nighttime.


—The rough-skinned end of the snout, usually wet in prosimians, indicating that smell is important to them.

Sexual dimorphism

—The occurrence of marked differences in coloration, size, or shape between males and females of the same species.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Laser - Background And History to Linear equationLemurs - Mouse And Dwarf Lemurs, True Lemurs, Indris Or Leaping Lemurs, Aye-aye, A Superfamily Of Its Own