On October 29th, we celebrate World Lemur Day. Time to find out more about these fascinating animals and their natural habitat!
Lemurs are classified as the world’s oldest primates: Their story began long before humans over 70 million years ago, when lemur-like animals (the planet’s first primates) roamed Africa along with the dinosaurs. Around 65 million years ago, lemurs rafted across the Indian Ocean to the island of Madagascar on floating vegetation. Over the next tens of millions of years, the lemurs evolved and diversified on Madagascar to the 112 species that we see today.
However, those species are increasingly in danger and lemurs are actually the world’s most endangered group of mammals. On the 2020 Red List, 98 % of lemur species are threatened with extinction and 31 % are critically endangered, which means one listing away from extinction in the wild.
Madagascar is the only natural habitat for all wild lemurs in the world, where they mostly live in the forests. When it comes to maintaining forest diversity and hence the resilience of these ecosystems, lemurs play an important role: the animals are moving seed and/or pollen from one area to another by carrying them on their fur or by digesting. Moreover, as lemurs are of course part of the forests’ food chain, they contribute to the natural balance of this ecosystem.
Regarding the co-dependency of lemurs and forests, there is currently even more concern. Due to deforestation and wildfires, the Madagascar forest areas are shrinking more and more. Very recently, at the beginning of October, a wildfire occurred next to the Kirindy Forest and thus hit a region which is a particularly important place of retreat for many lemurs.
Here you can learn more about wildfires and the danger for the Kirindy Forest:
Discover the Kirindy Forest and our support programmes for this region:
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