Underrated Pandemic Casualties: Madagascar’s Endangered Lemurs

Nature

The burning of Madagascar forests intensified this year since the pandemic lockdown started to clear forests to grow food crops and fell trees for firewood. Hunting also intensified as the critically-endangered Madagascar lemur became food. 

An article from National Geographic describes how the world is losing the critically-endangered Madagascar lemur in the face of the pandemic lockdown.

The Madagascar Lemurs

Pandemic lockdown casualties: Madagascar’s Endangered Lemurs

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons )
The burning of Madagascar forests intensified this year since the pandemic lockdown started to clear forests to grow food crops and fell trees for firewood. Hunting also intensified as the critically-endangered Madagascar lemur became food.

Madagascar’s varied forest types made the island an area with high biodiversity as it houses thousands of endemic plants and animals facing intense human pressure. 

Before the pandemic, tourism was the island’s lifeblood, which supported more than 300,000 jobs, and lemur-watching is the most popular. 

READ: Conservation Success Stories Amidst Gloominess of 2020

Madagascar is known to have 107 species of lemurs: the forest-dwelling primate with notable saucer-like eyes, long muzzle, and furry tails that are found only in Madagascar. Revenue for tourism is approximately $900 million per year, but most people live on less than $2 a day.

AS tourism was put to a halt amid the pandemic, people were forced to move to rural areas to clear forests. 

Clearing of the forest is one of the most worrying threats for the lemurs. Lemurs thrive and spend their time in the trees eating fruits, leaves, buds, insects, small birds, and bird eggs. Deforestation has a devastating impact on lemurs: the fragmentation isolates populations, oftentimes leading to inbreeding. It also prompts territorial disputes causing male lemurs to kill young animals that are unrelated to them. 

Hunting has also drastically depleted their population. 

READ ALSO: New ‘Bum-Breathing’ Mary River Turtle’s Nest Discovered in a New Territory

The impact of the pandemic lockdown in Madagascar 

After the nation’s coronavirus was announced, people began moving away from its capital Antananarivo and other cities, and bounded to rural areas. 

Without income, these residents aspired to work the land and produce a yield to help them through this health and economic crisis brought by the pandemic lockdown.

According to Tiana Andriamanana, the Executive Director of Fanamby, a Madagascan conservation nonprofit organization that manages five protected areas in Madagascar, the forest burning intensified particularly in March when the lockdown started.  

The nation is among the poorest in the world. Malnutrition is prevalent as almost one of every two children is malnourished. Many people in rural areas hunted wildlife for food. Hunger and poverty worsened this pandemic, and lemurs became a regular source of meat.

The extent of deforestation and loss of lemur’s habitat is a challenge in this pandemic as there is no available satellite imagery for 2020, and the soonest that it may be available is next year. 

Before the pandemic, anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer Cortni Borgerson said that at least 1,600 red ruffed lemurs were killed each year. But because of the lockdown, families resorted to hunting to feed themselves or sell meat in local markets.

To save Madagascar’s endangered lemurs and its forest, pandemic lockdown must be properly managed. Reforestation using indigenous species to replace the lost trees and forests is also a must.

READ NEXT: Saving Siberian Tigers Through Vaccination

Check out for more news and information on Endangered Species on Nature World News. 

© 2018 NatureWorldNews.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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