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.
Bromley, Lynn. Monkeys, Apes and Other Primates. Santa Barbara: Bellerophon Books, 1981.
Durrell, Gerald. The Aye-Aye and I. New York: Viking Press, 1992.
Ganzhorn, J., P. Kappeler, and S. O'Connor. Comparative Behavioral Ecology of Madagascan Lemurs. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1998.
Harcourt, Caroline, and Jane Thornback . Lemurs of Madagascar and the Comoros. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN-The World Conservation Union, 1990.
Kerrod, Robin . Mammals: Primates, Insect-Eaters and Baleen Whales. New York: Facts on File, 1988.
Mittermeier, R., et al., eds. Lemurs of Madagascar: An Action Plan for Their Conservation: 1993-1999. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN-The World Conservation Union, 1992.
Napier, J. R., and P. H. Napier. The Natural History of the Primates. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1985.
Peterson, Dale. The Deluge and the Ark: A Journey into Primate Worlds. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
Powzyk, J.A. In Search of Lemurs: My Days and Nights in a Madagascar Rain Forest. Washington, DC:National Geographic Society, 1998.
Preston-Mafham, Rod, and Ken Preston-Mafham. Primates of the World. New York: Facts on File, 1992.
Sleeper, B. Primates: The Amazing World of Lemurs, Monkeys, and Apes. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1997.
Wimmer, Barbara. "The Genetic Population Structure Of The Gray Mouse Lemur." Behavioral Ecology And Sociobiology 52, no. 2 (2002): 166.
Jean F. Blashfield